Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) strawweight prospects JJ Aldrich and Polyana Viana battled last night (Aug. 4, 2018) at UFC 227 inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Aldrich first made her name known as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Though she didn’t win the show and even lost her first bout inside the Octagon, Aldrich received another chance, which paid off to the tune of a pair of quality wins. On the other hand, Viana has utterly dominated nearly every foe she’s faced. The only issue is that none of them have been very good.
This matchup may have been an incredibly random fight for the main card of a UFC pay-per-view (PPV), but both women looked to deliver a big win nevertheless.
Viana, the longer woman, made good use of her range, sticking her advancing foe with long straight shots and solid kicks. Before long though, the fight moved into the clinch. At first, the bigger Brazilian controlled her opponent there, but before long both women got their licks in. Back at range, Viana continued to land hard kicks as Aldrich advanced. Aldrich landed too though, and she finished the round with a takedown near the end of the round.
It was a very tight opening five minutes.
Viana looked a bit wild to start the second, still throwing heat but looking a bit fatigued. Aldrich ate some shots but also landed a pair of big hooks, capitalizing on her opponent’s raised chin. Aldrich found her range a couple minutes into the round, landing crisp counters as Viana burst forward.
Undeterred, Viana continued to land hard crosses and right kicks as well. Aldrich got a bit too comfortable striking though, allowing Viana to duck under a cross and land a brief takedown. Aldrich was able to reverse though, finishing the round on top.
After a back-and-forth 10 minutes, the fight was still up in the air with a round remaining.
Aldrich’s counters were on point to start the third, snapping Viana’s head back more consistently. As a result, Viana pulled guard moments later, which was a desperate act to change the fight. Oddly, Viana didn’t do all that much from her back, mostly holding onto Aldrich and throwing little punches from her back.
Viana returned to her feet with 90 seconds remaining, and it took about five seconds for Aldrich to land another huge left hand. Viana was majorly tired, which enabled Aldrich to pick her apart for the rest of the round.
It was precisely the strong finish Aldrich needed.
Aldrich is not the most athletic talent at 115 lbs., but she definitely makes the most of her gifts. Faced with a bigger, stronger opponent who also held an advantage on the mat, Aldrich was forced to balance a game plan of high-volume kickboxing, counter shots, and well-rounded wrestling.
Once Aldrich found her range and Viana slowed, Aldrich’s counter left hand landed repeatedly. It landed with remarkably consistency, and it really showed how important punching fundamentals are. Viana’s strikes were sloppy and came up short despite her length, whereas Aldrich’s snapped directly down the center and landed clean.
Good, technical work from Aldrich, who has now won three straight.
As for Viana, this was a major step up in competition, and the holes in her game arose as a result. Viana’s conditioning has never been tested — almost all of her wins came in the first round. Faced with relatively unknown territory, Viana slowed considerably and grew far less effective.
In addition, Viana’s offensive wrestling needs work. Her jiu-jitsu is clearly very good, but that doesn’t matter if she cannot land a takedown. Luckily, there’s still plenty of time to improve, and at least Viana now should have a clear idea of what to work on.
Last night, JJ Aldrich pulled through as a slight upset. Who should Aldrich face next?
For complete UFC 227: “Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE!