Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight contenders Cris Cyborg and Felicia Spencer will collide this Saturday (July 27, 2019) from inside Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Thirteen years of dominance came to an end in 51 seconds when Cyborg fell to the power punches of Amanda Nunes back in Dec. 2018. Since the loss, Cyborg has been in something of a No Man’s Land without anyone to fight, particularly since Nunes initially was uninterested in a rematch. Luckily for Cyborg, Nunes has changed her tune, making this a pivotal fight for the former champion. As one of about four women’s Featherweights on the roster, Spencer was already a potential opponent for Cyborg the moment she signed her contract. An upset win opposite Megan Anderson sealed her fate, however, and now the Canadian will look to wrap up her most high-profile neck yet.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Record: 18-2 (1)
Key Wins: Holly Holm (UFC 219), Marloes Coenen (Invicta FC 6, Strikeforce: Miami), Gina Carano (Strikeforce: Carano vs Cyborg), Leslie Smith (UFC 198)
Key Losses: Amanda Nunes (UFC 232)
Keys to Victory: For all her brawn and habit of simply blowing opponents out of the water, Cyborg is a technical and well-rounded fighter. She forgot herself against Nunes, so I expect a more methodical Cyborg to return in her rebound fight.
Like so many of her past foes — pretty much all of them aside from Nunes — Cyborg holds a tremendous athleticism and power advantage. She’s going to be moving much faster and hitting much harder than Spencer, and Cyborg knows well how to capitalize on those advantages.
Still, Spencer is a jiu-jitsu black belt. Anderson tried to bully her and found herself strangled shortly after. Cyborg is obviously much better than Anderson, but there’s no need to expose herself to such risk. Let the jab and kicks weaken Spencer for a round or two while she’s most dangerous, then move in for the kill.
Key Wins: Megan Anderson (UFC Fight Night 152), Pam Sorensen (Invicta FC 32)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Spencer is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Taekwondo, but it’s pretty clear that she relies more on the former. The 28-year-old former Invicta FC queen has submitted four of her past opponents via rear-naked choke.
Jiu-jitsu is often considered a great equalizer when dealing with a larger, stronger opponent, and there is no better example of that ideal than the combination of back mount and choke. Once a fighter takes the back, most other factors go out the window, and solely the back-taker’s offense is pitted against the trapped foe’s defense.
That’s a position from which Spencer can win, and she needs to throw all her energy at getting Cyborg down and strangling her quickly. Generally, this strategy doesn’t work out for foes of Cyborg, but Spencer is actually a comparable size and actually good at jiu-jitsu. Plus, she used a takedown attempt to pull into a half-guard attempt against Anderson — that type of creativity and style-blending is precisely what is needed to get Cyborg down and put her in a bad position.
Bottom Line: The winner will likely face Nunes next.
Cyborg wants revenge. She was knocked out quickly and feels she didn’t display her skillset fully — which is hard to argue, regardless of whether or not one favors her in a rematch. Either way, this is her opportunity to return to the win column and score a big knockout, which will serve to push her closer to another showdown with “Lioness.”
Unless you follow Invicta FC — and let’s be honest, most UFC fans do not — Spencer only became a known fighter when she upset Megan Anderson two short months ago. Already, Spencer finds herself in the co-main event of a pay-per-view (PPV) card, about to attempt to score another, much bigger upset. That’s a remarkably quick rise, one that could produce a new star if Spencer can find a way to defeat Cyborg.
Beyond any shadow of a doubt, it would make her the top contender for the Featherweight crown.
At UFC 240, Cris Cyborg and Felicia Spencer will go to war in the co-main event. Which woman will earn the victory?