Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight kickboxers Jessica-Rose Clark and Jessica Eye will duel this Saturday (June 23, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 132 inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.
Were it not for Valentina Shevchenko, my personal choice would be Clark for the next Flyweight title shot even before this fight. Two fights inside the Octagon has resulted in a pair of clear-cut wins — ignore the one wacko judge in the Rawlings fight — and a clear display of well-rounded skill.
Women’s Flyweight has its first dark horse contender.
On the other hand, Eye could very easily fill that role if she could consistently perform. Eye can be a frustrating fighter to watch, as she’s clearly talented but can forget to pull the trigger. Nevertheless, she earned a hard-fought win in her Flyweight debut, and that could serve as a fresh start for “Evil.”
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Record: 9-4 (1)
Key Wins: Paige VanZant (UFC Fight Night 124), Bec Rawlings (UFC Fight Night 121), Carina Damm (Titan FC 45), Kate da Silva (XFC: Australia 45)
Key Losses: Sarah Kaufman (Battlefield Fighting Championships), Pam Sorenson (Invicta FC 20), Pannie Kianzad (Invicta FC 13)
Keys to Victory: Clark is an impressively technical fighter. She moves well, can box going forward or counter at an angle, and has above-average wrestling to boot. Her first two Octagon bouts saw her pick apart lesser technicians — fighters who relied on grit and athleticism — but this will be a different challenge for the Aussie.
Assuming Eye is on her game, she’s a sharp boxer with sneaky takedowns herself. That said, Eye doesn’t transition between the parts of her game all that well. She’s far less fluid in moving from punches to kicks or striking to takedowns when compared to Clark. Therefore, Clark’s focus should be on moving and kicking, countering when Eye chases, and mixing in the occasional takedown attempt to keep Eye off-balance.
In addition, Clark should do her best to take away Eye’s jab, which is definitely her best weapon. Staying mobile and refusing to give an easy target already goes a long way in accomplishing that task, but countering the jab with a few low kicks or the cross counter would also help shut Eye’s jab down.
Record: 12-6 (1)
Key Wins: Kalindra Faria (UFC Fight Night 124), Leslie Smith (UFC 180), Zoila Frausto Gurgel (Bellator 83)
Key Losses: Miesha Tate (UFC on FOX 16), Alexis Davis (UFC 170), Bethe Correia (UFC 203), Juliana Pena (UFC 192)
Keys to Victory: Working behind her crisp jab, Eye looks to set up combinations of quick punches. When Eye actually throws, she can be quite offensively dangerous, such as when she picked apart Leslie Smith to the point that her ear exploded.
Volume is going to be critical in this fight. Last time out, Eye took a lot of damage from a sloppier striker and was forced to basically tackle her opponent to eke out a decision based on top control. It wasn’t pretty, and the main reason for Eye’s difficulties was her inability to really establish her jab or put out enough punches.
Clark is a solid kickboxer, but she’s hardly a knockout artist. Eye should be more willing to throw in this bout, and it’s imperative that she does so, otherwise she stands little chance of winning the decision. If Eye is active and jabbing, that alone can often be enough to dictate the pace of a fight and make a good striker look average.
Bottom Line: The victor is in great position at 125 pounds.
It’s very likely that the winner of this fight will face Sijare Eubanks in a title eliminator next. There’s really no one else near the top of the division riding any sort of win streak. A win here would make it three in a row over reasonably well-known opposition for Clark, clearly deserving of such an opportunity. Alternatively, Eye is already something of an established name in women’s mixed martial arts (MMA), meaning her road to the top will be quicker so long as she can string some wins together.
At the same time, while a loss is a definite setback, the division is still extremely new. It only takes a win or two to get right back into the mix, so until order is established and we really figure out who the best Flyweight women are, the most active fighters have an advantage.
At UFC Fight Night 132, Jessica-Rose Clark and Jessica Eye will square off. Which athlete will earn the victory?