Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Featherweight strikers Holly Holm and Megan Anderson will square off this Saturday (June 9, 2018) at UFC 225 inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Holm is the top contender in two divisions largely by default. She’s without an impressive victory since her 2015 destruction of Ronda Rousey, losing four of five fights since then. However, this is a big step back in competition for “The Preacher’s Daughter,” and even then it could score her another title shot. Meanwhile, Anderson is like the fourth women’s Featherweight on the roster, which makes her an instant contender. To her credit, Anderson did capture the Invicta FC Featherweight title and rides a four-fight win streak into this match up.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Ronda Rousey (UFC 193), Raquel Pennington (UFC 184), Marion Reneau (UFC Fight Night 71)
Key Losses: Cris Cyborg (UFC 219), Germaine de Randamie (UFC 208), Miesha Tate (UFC 196), Valentina Shevchenko (UFC on FOX 20)
Keys to Victory: Despite Holm’s famous professional boxing career, her hands aren’t that great inside the cage. Instead, Holm operates with far more success as a range kicker, but it all comes together when opponents try to pressure her.
Luckily, Anderson is more aggression than technique.
Early on, Holm has to convince Anderson to chase her. It shouldn’t be that hard — Anderson prefers to stalk opponents — but Holm also cannot let her find success with any early counters. Instead, Holm should look to smash the left kick into Anderson’s mid-section.
A few hard kicks from Holm should motivate Anderson to push forward. Once that happens, Holm is in her element. Her ability to lead may be dreadful, but Holm is legitimately talented at landing a spearing cross and safely exiting when faced with an aggressive opponent.
Key Wins: Charmaine Tweet (Invicta FC 21), Peggy Morgan (Invicta FC 18)
Key Losses: Cindy Dandois (Invicta FC 14)
Keys to Victory: Anderson’s biggest advantage in most fights is size. The Australian athlete does have solid offensive Muay Thai, but generally overwhelms opponents by being larger and absorbing whatever offense is thrown her way.
It’s been about 18 months since we last saw Anderson compete, so improvement in the off-season is definitely possible for the 28-year-old.
To defeat Holm, Anderson has to learn from the other athletes who have already accomplished the task. Holm responds well to pressure. It’s what she does. Alternatively, Holm looks horribly uncomfortable when forced to lead and commonly runs into counter punches.
It may not be Anderson’s favorite strategy, but she has the length and tools to compete with Holm at range. If she’s throwing hard kicks and trying to stick Holm with a jab, the veteran will be forced to push back on occasion. That’s Anderson’s chance to land her most effective punches and take over the fight.
Bottom Line: Depressingly, this could be a title eliminator.
Holm gave Cyborg a better fight than just about anyone else. That’s not to say it was particularly close or that Holm would have much of a chance in a rematch, but it was at least interesting to watch. At some point, UFC will book Holm to rematch the champion ... if only because there are so few options.
With a win, UFC probably turns to Holm after Cyborg faces off with Amanda Nunes.
As for Anderson, most who have watched her Invicta FC fights are skeptical about her chances against more experienced competition, but at least she’s a new face. Plus, she has the build of a true Featherweight — making her one of two fighters in the division who cannot also make 135 pounds — and is young enough to still improve dramatically. If Anderson takes out Holm, a title shot is imminent. If not, UFC will find someone to face her later in the year, and if she wins that bout, she’ll probably get a title shot.
Such is the reality of a division with less than five members.
At UFC 225, Holly Holm and Megan Anderson will duel to determine the next women’s Featherweight contender. Which woman will move closer to a showdown with Cris Cyborg?