Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight strap-hanger, Germaine de Randamie, will take on top prospect, Aspen Ladd, this Saturday (July 13, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 155 from inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
What an odd road it has been for de Randamie. The decorated Muay Thai athlete debuted in UFC with a loss to Amanda Nunes in just her seventh professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fight. Then, she beat up two women who have largely been forgotten because of their complete lack of success inside the Octagon. Somehow, this earned her a title shot a weight class above against Holly Holm. De Randamie thoroughly beat Holm, only hampered by the controversy of some shots after the bell. After defeating Holm, de Randamie promptly ditched the belt to avoid fighting Cris Cyborg (more details here), waited 18 months, and became a legitimate contender at 135 pounds by outclassing Raquel Pennington.
Can the disgraced champion make her way to another title shot? Let’s take a closer look at her skill set:
De Randamie racked up a hugely impressive record (37-0) inside the ring, scoring multiple championships throughout the mid-2000s in Muay Thai and kickboxing. In the cage, de Randamie fights like one would expect of an old-school Muay Thai fighter: very composed and powerful while relying on fundamentals.
Often, fighters with Muay Thai backgrounds are still fairly ordinary in the clinch — not every style of Muay Thai involves such a heavy emphasis on clinch work, particularly in the United States. De Randamie is an exception, however. She is quite good at hanging on opponents from the collar-tie, finding different angles to land knees, and transitioning between different tie-ups. In this week’s technique highlight, we’ll cover some of de Randamie’s clinch work, particularly the strategies used in her bout with Raquel Pennington.
When de Randamie strikes from the outside, it’s still very classic Muay Thai. Early on, she tends to rely heavily on low kicks. Against an opponent of the same stance, she’ll foot replace into sneaky inside low kicks. If she’s looking to commit to a heavier blow, de Randamie will hide a hard outside low kick behind a left hook or jab. Often, de Randamie uses her lead hand to angle across her opponent’s body and add power to the low kick.
As de Randamie settles into the fight, her variety of kicks will increase. When thrown in combination, her high kicks are unexpected and powerful. On occasion, de Randamie will suddenly snap into a switch kick to the body or head, Donald Cerrone-style. Her front kicks are also worth mentioning. Usually thrown with her back leg, de Randamie’s front kick is a valuable tool is helping her maintain the distance.
In de Randamie’s last bout, she clearly respected the takedown/grappling threat of Pennington. As a result, “The Iron Lady” kicked far less frequently and relied on his her hands. Though de Randamie is definitely a better kickboxer than boxer, that part of her game was not lacking.
De Randamie kept it simple. Still taking advantage of her long build, the Dutch striker repeatedly stuck Pennington with a hard jab. Once her jab was established and Pennington backed off, de Randamie committed even more heavily to her steps forward, closing the distance with big one-two combinations.
In general, de Randamie has a nice overhand, thrown smoothly and with her head off the center line. Against Holm, de Randamie found great success is stinging Holm with her long distance punches and pulling, hoping to draw Holm forward. When Holm did take the bait, she often ran into the counter right hand.
In a more brutal example of de Randamie’s boxing, she thoroughly smashes Larissa Pacheco. Pacheco was simply outmatched on the feet, and as soon as de Randamie realized that her foe offered no real threat, she slammed uppercuts and overhands around the guard (GIF).
Lastly, de Randamie is a very defensively sound fighter who rarely leaves herself in position to be hit. Each and every time her opponent comes at her with punches and de Randamie wishes to move without countering, she’ll take a couple steps back before quickly circling away from her foe’s power. She’s very disciplined, and de Randamie rarely gets hit cleanly as a result.
De Randemie has yet to hit a takedown inside the Octagon or show any real interest in doing so. When she takes top position, de Randamie has either reversed a poor shot or dropped her foe.
It’s been several years since de Randamie was thrown to the mat and beaten up by Nunes, and her takedown defense has come a long way — she actually hasn’t been taken down since. In general, de Randamie does a nice job of getting her hips back when an opponent shoots, allowing her to either dig an underhook and simply pull up on an overhook. Either way, de Randamie is often able to pull her opponent up from the waist into an upper body clinch, where the Muay Thai fighter is quite comfortable.
For the most part, de Randamie’s composed and technical approach to kickboxing is also a big benefit to defending shots. However, earlier in her career, de Randamie had an issue of loading up before throwing a naked kick — that’s too risky against a dedicated wrestler. In her bouts with Holm and Pennington, it was worrying that both women were able to duck under her big right hand to latch onto the waist even if de Randamie was then able to defend.
Ladd will prove a stiff test to her grappling.
Similar to her wrestling, de Randamie has yet to attempt a submission inside UFC. She’s never been submitted, either, leaving a limited amount of information available to her grappling game.
Earlier in her UFC career, de Randamie did run into some trouble on the mat. Julie Kedzie was able to score several takedowns and then hang on from guard, while de Randamie did little to sweep or stand. Worse, Amanda Nunes was able to transition from a takedown directly into mount, where de Randamie was unable to defend herself.
The bottom game may not be de Randamie’s best aspect, but she does scramble along the fence well. When brought to a knee or her butt, de Randamie will quickly look to place her back on the fence and begin to inch her way up.
It’s really easy to forget that de Randamie is still just 11 fights into her professional MMA career despite all the drama. She has never been out-struck in the cage, and it seems like her defensive wrestling/grappling has been improving. If she can really shore it up to an elite level — something this fight with Ladd will test — “Iron Lady” would have a better chance than most against Nunes.
Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.
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