Top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight contenders Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Aguilar will battle this Saturday (August 1, 2015) at UFC 190 inside HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Despite being seen by many as one of the best 115-pounds female fighters in the world, Gadelha was not on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), which forced her to work up the ranks. That was going just fine until she lost a split decision to current division champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and she's now more than eager for a rematch.
Similarly, Aguilar was actually ranked No. 1 in the world before UFC introduced the Strawweight division to its roster. As is fitting, she's been immediately given a title eliminator bout in her debut, though it comes opposite stiff competition.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters:
Key Wins: Valerie Letourneau (Wreck MMA), Tina Lahdemaki (UFC Fight Night 45)
Key Losses: Joanna Jedrzejcyzk (UFC on FOX 13)
Keys to Victory: Gadelha is among the most well-rounded strawweights in the world. She's an aggressive and effective striker, powerful wrestler and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) world champion.
Together, those skills have allowed her to finish eight of her opponents.
In this bout, Gadelha should put aside her ground game. Though she certainly has the technique and athleticism to win in that realm, grappling is also Aguilar's specialty, and Gadelha is more comfortable on her feet than her opponent.
"JAG" isn't a particularly technical or dangerous striker. She's not awful, but her strikes largely serve the purpose of setting up her shots. Gadelha has the defensive grappling to defend those shots, leaving Aguilar stranded on her feet and without a real threat.
In that situation, Gadelha should be able to bully her opponent around with power punches. As the bigger and better striker, she should have an opportunity to make a statement, which would really help her case for another bout with Joanna "Champion" so soon.
Key Wins: Megumi Fujii (VTJ 3, Bellator 69), Carla Esparza (Bellator 46)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Undefeated since 2010 and currently riding a 10-fight win streak, Aguilar earned her position at the top by defeating Megumi Fujii -- a pioneer of women's MMA -- twice. In that time period, she also became the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) queen and defended her title twice.
If there's one clear advantage that Aguilar holds in this bout, it's her conditioning. Her last two fights have gone the full 25 minutes without issue, while Gadelha is taking deep breaths after a single hard round.
To make the most of this advantage, Aguilar needs to force this into a wrestling match against the fence. Technically, both women are probably about equal, though Gadelha holds the strength advantage. However, if she's forced to constantly defend the double or is trading positions in the clinch, that advantage will quickly dissipate.
Exhausting the Brazilian will make everything much easier for "JAG." Once her opponent is tired, her punches will be less powerful and her fearsome jiu-jitsu will be much less volatile.
Once Aguilar is on top, she's in control. She may not have the credentials of her opponent, but Aguilar is a very talented jiu-jitsu fighter in her own right. If she's already worn out her opponent, she may be able to find a finish of her own.
Bottom Line: As two of the top-ranked women that were not given a place on TUF, both fighters are in very similar positions.
The main difference here is that Gadelha has already fought the champion. In fact, in the eyes of many media members and fight fans, she already deserves a win over Jedrzejczyk. That makes the potential rematch highly intriguing, considering how dominant Jedrzejczyk's pair of title fights have been.
On the other hand, Aguilar legitimately earned her position at the top of the division, even if UFC did skip over her. She hasn't lost in some time and is more than deserving of an opportunity to fight for the belt. Hell, it wouldn't have been unreasonable for her to be given an immediate shot.
The bright side for both women is that a loss wouldn't really be that costly. There are few other available contenders, meaning the loser of this bout will still most likely find herself fighting for the belt within a year or two.
At UFC 190, Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Aguilar will make their case for the next title shot. Which woman will come out on top?
Get the latest gear
- 2023 Panini Prizm UFC Factory Sealed Retail Blaster Box
- 2023 Panini Select UFC Factory Sealed Retail Blaster Box
- Islam Makhachev Walkout Jersey
- UFC Fanatics Single Glove Display Case
- 2022 Panini Donruss Optic Retail Blaster Box
- 2023 Donruss UFC Retail Blaster Box
- Miesha Tate UFC Authentic Plaque
- Brock Lesnar WWE Home Sweet Home Collage