Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads to Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., tomorrow (Sat., Aug. 3, 2019) featuring an interesting assortment of fights before Colby Covington and Robbie Lawler duke it out in the main event; however, just two of those fights feature newcomers. In this installment of “New Blood,” the series where I actually take written notes for the first time since college, we look at a regional Welterweight veteran and a pair of unbeaten women’s Flyweights.
Weight Class: Welterweight
Record: 11-1 (4 KO, 4 SUB)
Significant Victories: None
Williams — who hails from Dubuque, Iowa — has not tasted defeat in the professional cage since 2009, when he fell to future UFC competitor Eric Wisely in his third professional fight. His 10+-year career also includes a run on Bellator’s one-and-done The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) counterpart, Fight Master, where he dispatched three opponents before dropping a split decision to Joe Riggs in the semifinals. He replaces the visa-beleaguered Ramazan Emeev on less than two weeks’ notice.
Williams seems to be an all-arounder, not terribly flashy but thus far fairly effective. On the feet, he almost exclusively uses his hands, sitting down on hard straight rights and left hooks with the occasional jab. There aren’t any gaping holes in his boxing offense — he’s got some decent pop and can also counter if needed. He does, however, seem to favor a high, tight “earmuff” guard when punches come back his way, which leaves him open to body shots and is ineffective on the whole in four-ounce gloves. The lack of kicks also makes him fairly predictable, culminating in an overall offense that doesn’t appear difficult to plan round.
His ground game looks similarly decent-if-unremarkable. He’s not a terribly explosive takedown artist and had issues holding down his most recent opponent, but has shown some strong ground-and-pound.
He’s not a bad fighter by any stretch, but there’s just nothing memorable or striking about his game. His technique and athleticism both seem average, neither sufficiently impressive to compensate for the flaws in the other.
It also doesn’t help that he’s had just two fights in the last four-ish years. Williams is good for some entertaining scraps, but don’t expect anything mind-bending in his UFC run.
Opponent: It’s generalist vs. specialist as he takes on Claudio Silva. Though Williams far outstrips “Hannibal” on the feet, the latter’s phenomenal submission game and functional wrestling present a major threat. I’ve seen better grapplers than Williams succumb to Silva’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and with so little time to prepare for the Brazilian’s bizarrely effective game, I don’t see him lasting long.
Hannah “Queen of Sparta” Goldy
Weight Class: Flyweight
Record: 5-0 (1 KO)
Significant Victories: Gillian Robertson, Kali Robbins
After beating Robertson in her debut back in 2016, Goldy went perfect (3-0) in 2018 to earn herself a spot on the newest season of Dana White’s “Contender Series.” There, she took on King of the Cage and Invicta veteran Kali Robbins, whom she out-struck off the back foot on her way to a decision victory. Though the win didn’t earn her an immediate contract, she makes her Octagon debut less than two months afterward.
Goldy is a mobile counter-striker with a crafty lead leg, favoring fluidity and speed over power. She stays busy with low kicks as she retreats, mixing in shots to the head and body, then opens up with rapid combination punches when opponents get into range. She’s fond of the check hook, unsurprisingly, but will sit down on her right cross.
The issue here is that she doesn’t seem to have a lot of craft to her circling. She keeps her hands low, but doesn’t always bring them up when shots come her way, a problem compounded by her general lack of head movement. Robbins managed to find the mark with some heavy shots despite her lack of cage cutting, which bodes ill for Goldy should she face anyone suitably relentless or more adept at closing the gap.
Her takedown defense looked stout on “Contender Series,” and what little top control Robbins managed didn’t last long. She’s also demonstrated some good knees in the clinch, which could serve her well if her poor footwork allows an opponent to get inside.
Goldy’s lack of ability/inclination to finish will make standing out difficult, but she’s definitely good enough to hold her own around the middle of the Flyweight pack.
Opponent: Goldy fights Miranda Granger, an adept submission artist who shares Robbins’ issues with getting inside. The style matchup looks to be in Goldy’s favor, but she did briefly wind up in some bad positions in her last fight and Granger’s good enough to capitalize and finish in very little time. Still, Goldy wins more often than not.
Tape: Goldy’s Contender Series appearance is on ESPN+.
Miranda “Danger” Granger
Weight Class: Flyweight
Record: 6-0 (1 KO, 5 SUB)
Significant Victories: Amy Montenegro, Jamie Colleen
Granger went undefeated (5-0) as an amateur before making the move to the paid ranks in 2017, stopping four of those five opponents along the way. She’s yet to go past the second round as a pro, most recently choking out Heloisa Azevedo for the vacant Cage Fury Strawweight title in May.
Granger is a submission-over-position ground specialist who does her best work in response to her opponent’s mistakes. While you won’t see her wrestle someone to the mat and patiently work her way into a dominant position, she can catch guillotines in transition, land armbars as she regains guard, or immediately sweep when caught in mount. This has been effective thus far, but her lack of positional awareness has cost her. Jamie Thorton immediately swept her after getting taken down and I’ve seen her fall back for an ankle lock while on top in guard, which should really only be done when there are 20 seconds left in the round.
Her wrestling seems a little iffy — she has secured takedowns from the clinch and off a caught kick, but also got dumped into side control by Colleen while looking for a guillotine. It takes some serious submission chops to make up for an inability to dictate the nature of your ground exchanges — even Brian Ortega, UFC’s current poster child for that mindset, took a frightful beating when Max Holloway refused to oblige.
Though clearly far more dangerous on the mat, her striking isn’t a liability. She puts her shots together well, but has a weird habit of just walking into the pocket bolt upright. She’s comfortable with low kicks at range and punches/knees inside; it’s the transition period that’s a worry.
Granger’s quick-kill submission style could definitely get her some post-fight bonuses against the lower echelons of the division, but she needs to dedicate herself to a more proactive takedown style to make a dent.
Opponent: See above.
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