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UFC Fight Night 112 fight card: Felice Herrig vs Justine Kish preview

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Herrig vs Curran Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight strikers Felice Herrig and Justine Kish will battle this Sunday (June 25, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 112 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Herrig is a long-time mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran, but her position in UFC wasn’t exactly clear following her season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). A fair amount of people wrote her off following a mediocre showing opposite Paige VanZant and long layoff, but “Lil Bulldog” returned to take out a pair of solid prospects. Russia’s Kish is one of the more unique fighters in her division. Kish competed as a professional kickboxer for nearly a decade, bringing an interesting level of intensity and chaos into the cage with her

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both women:

Felice Herrig
Record: 12-6
Key Wins: ALexa Grasso (UFC Fight Night 104), Heather Jo Clark (Bellator 94), Kailan Curran (UFC on FOX 20)
Key Losses: Paige VanZant (UFC on FOX 15), Tecia Torres (Invicta FC 7), Carla Esparza (XFC 15)
Keys to Victory: Like her opponent, Herrig excelled in both kickboxing and Muay Thai. Her last bout was the first UFC fight that truly showed those skills, as Herrig used tight punches and consistent pressure to derail one of her division’s best prospects. It’s also worth-mentioning that Herrig is an above-average wrestler with four submission wins.

Frankly, that may be her saving grace.

Kish’s greatest quality is likely her aggression and athleticism, which will be a difficult challenge for Herrig to overcome. However, Kish has far too much confidence in her wrestling and scrambling abilities. She makes a lot of basic mistakes on the mat despite her willingness to fight there, and that’s something a veteran like Herrig should be able to take advantage of.

Early on, Herrig should engage with Kish and make it a brawl as quickly as possible. Herrig is durable enough to eat some shots if it means Kish will plant her feet and throw, which is the best moment to time a takedown. From top position, Herrig’s strength and jiu-jitsu will come into play, as she only needs one mistake to grab the back and finish the fight.


Justine Kish
Record: 6-0
Key Wins: Nina Ansaroff (UFC 195), Randa Markos (RFA 12), Ashley Yoder (UFC Fight Night 102)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Kish may be a sloppy technician, but she knows how to win fights. Kish is a strong athlete with an endless gas tank who will push forward regardless of what’s coming her way, a mentality which has won her a pair of close decisions inside the Octagon.

While I would love to write that Kish simply needs to avoid grappling with Herrig to win — which would be true — that’s not her style. Kish goes balls-to-the-wall from the first bell to the last, attempting to overwhelm her opponent with physicality and volume.

The most similar opponent in Herrig’s career? Paige VanZant.

Kish has the ability and style to win in similar fashion. As long as she doesn’t give up her back and get choked out early in the fight, Kish’s relentless strikes and scrambles will wear Herrig out. When severe fatigue is in play, technique stops being all that important.

Bottom Line: It’s a solid bout between Strawweights looking to break into the Top 10.

Right now, Herrig has been serving the role of gatekeeper. However, if she can notch her third straight win and derail another quality prospect in this bout, she’ll have earned a chance to look up the rankings rather than down. With a win, a Top 10 opponent would be a reasonable challenge next.

Alternatively, losing to Kish keeps her in exactly the same spot.

Kish is one of the division’s better athletes and has a serious combat sports background, giving her a real shot at becoming a contender. If she can shore up the holes in her ground game — something this bout will test — Kish is not far from the title mix. Indeed, a win here introduces Kish to the rankings and sets her up for a major bout in her next appearance. Alternatively, a loss stalls her rise, but it could also be the eye-opener that her ground game does need some work.

At UFC Fight Night 112, Felice Herrig and Justine Kish will square off. Who will continue to climb the Strawweight ranks?

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