Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Flyweight prospects Paige VanZant and Rachael Ostovich will square off this Saturday (Jan. 19, 2019) at UFC on ESPN+1 inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
It seems like a lifetime ago now, but back in 2015 VanZant was a top prospect at 115 pounds with three straight victories inside the Octagon. Since then, however, “PVZ” has lost three of her previous four fights, forcing her to the back of the line and resulting in this step back in competition. Sadly, the main conversation around Ostovich lately is the brutal alleged domestic assault she recently suffered (details). The silver lining, at least, is that Ostovich decided she was still mentally and physically ready to compete on Saturday night, meaning she’ll have a chance to move forward in a high-profile event.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Bec Rawlings (UFC on FOX 21), Felice Herrig (UFC on FOX 15), Kailan Curran (UFC Fight Night 57), Alex Chambers (UFC 191)
Key Losses: Jessica Rose-Clark (UFC Fight Night 124), Rose Namajunas (UFC Fight Night 80), Michelle Waterson (UFC on FOX 22)
Keys to Victory: Still just 24 years old, it’s far too early to write off “12 Gauge” just yet. VanZant is at her best when forcing the issue constantly, grinding in the clinch and gaining top position. She’s a great athlete and does well in exhausting fights, a pair of hugely valuable traits.
Currently, VanZant’s problem is a stylistic one. Rather than walking down her opponent, throwing herself into the clinch, and forcing a war of attrition, VanZant chooses to dance around the outside and kick. She can certainly kick hard, but VanZant is not a technician and is no longer taking advantage of her athletic gifts.
That’s a bad combo.
Ostovich has been worn down and finished late in each of her four career losses. If VanZant actually tries to tire her out and gain top position, she’ll most likely get back in the win column in dominant fashion.
Key Wins: Karine Gevorgyan (TUF 26 Finale), Ariel Beck (Invicta FC 17)
Key Losses: Montana De La Rosa (TUF 27 Finale), Andrea Lee (Invcta FC 14)
Keys to Victory: A professional since 2014, Ostovich’s has yet to find consistent success. Admittedly, the main reason for her .500 record was facing tough opponents from the very beginning of her career, a result of her undefeated amateur record.
Ostovich is something of a generalist, though she does her best work from top position. However, she does not want an extended wrestling match with VanZant, which will tire her and force VanZant to fight from the correct range. Instead, Ostovich should let VanZant have the kickboxing match she probably — and mistakenly — desires.
At range, neither woman is likely to land anything all that devastating. However, VanZant is very willing to throw herself off-balance into wild kicks or bursts of punches, which could represent the easy takedown opportunity Ostovich needs to gain top position and lock in a choke.
Bottom Line: It’s a bout of Flyweight prospects that’s sure to draw some eyes to the first-ever event on ESPN+.
VanZant has the physical gifts to be a true contender, but she has been unable to make the most of them recently. Part of that is a lack of technique, a simple problem solved by more years in the gym and time in the cage. More important is that VanZant recognizes her own strengths and applies pressure as a result. She’s been given a serious step back in competition because of her losses, but a non-elite opponent should allow VanZant to perform to the best of her abilities once more.
Again, she’s only 24 years old — there’s time to build her back up to potential contender status.
As for Ostovich, this is a major opportunity to make her name known. Her previous UFC fights were hidden on the undercard of TUF Finale events, making this a major step up in exposure and opportunity. A win here introduces Ostovich to a new audience, as well as earning her a spot in the Top 15.
At UFC Fight Night 143, Paige VanZant and Rachael Ostovich will go to war. Which woman will have her hand raised?