Whether or not it’s because of running head-to-head against Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren, the upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) card this weekend (Sat., April 17, 2021) isn’t the prettiest, though it does feature a handful of fresh faces. On this edition of “New Blood”, the series where Fight Pass actually earns its subscription cost, we look at a Brazilian knockout artist and a pair of quality LFA veterans.
Josiane “Josi” Nunes
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Record: 7-1 (6 KO)
Notable Victories: Dione Barbosa
Nunes has not tasted defeat since 2013, when she fell to future UFC contender Taila Santos in “Josi’s” second professional bout. She’s won her last four bouts by knockout, most recently stopping Quezie Zbonik in Nov. 2020.
Nunes is a squat, stalking Southpaw with a simple goal: rip inside low kicks until the opportunity arises to fire her left hand and follow up with swarming flurries. When she decides to skip the low kicks and get right to the violence, she’s fond of jumping in with knees or Superman punches, and she’ll dig in the occasional body shot as well. It’s not that technical and it’s deathly short on proper setups, but she’s got the raw power and aggression to make it work.
Assuming, of course, she can actually keep it standing. Nunes definitely has issues with her takedown defense, compounded by a willingness to jump for a guillotine. On top of that, she appears vulnerable to getting controlled against the fence and can take a while to get back to her feet. Dione Barbosa had tons of success dragging Nunes to the mat two fights ago, and it was only thanks to Nunes’ power that she was able to turn things around in their brief stand up exchanges.
She also showed some cardio issues three fights ago. She was still fresh after two rounds with Barbosa, but she spent more of that fight stuck on her back than actually slinging heat.
At the end of the day, Nunes is as entertaining as she is deeply flawed. Her power isn’t enough to bail her out against Octagon-level opposition; it’ll take some favorable matchmaking for her to make any sort of run. On the bright side, it’ll be fun while it lasts.
Opponent: She welcomes Zarah Fairn back to Bantamweight after a two-fight run as a UFC Featherweight saw the Frenchwoman get stopped by Megan Anderson and Felicia Spencer, all while landing a measly 15 significant strikes along the way. Nunes hits a fair bit harder than Fairn, but could very easily get peppered to death and fade down the stretch if she can’t crack “Infinite’s” chin. A close match between two aggressive fighters who, sadly, probably aren’t going anywhere fast in the Octagon.
Lupita “Loopy” Godinez
Weight Class: Strawweight
Record: 5-0 (1 SUB)
Notable Victories: Vanessa Demopoulos
Though she had mixed success as an amateur, Godinez has yet to taste defeat in three years as a professional. Her most recent victory was her most noteworthy to date, out-slugging “Contender Series” veteran Vanessa Demopoulos to claim the LFA Strawweight title.
She steps in for Hannah Goldy on little more than two weeks’ notice.
Mauling boxing and a stout wrestling base form the backbone of Godinez’s offense. She’s at her best when she’s stalking opponents, leading with a ramrod jab or her favored left hook before following up with rapid-fire combinations to the head and body. Her lack of professional knockouts belie her speed and power, which allowed her to carve up Demopoulos’ face and badly hurt her on multiple occasions.
She really is something to behold when she finds her groove, though she’s beset by a number of small flaws. First and foremost, she seems to struggle with persistent pressure; while she’s got some truly nasty counters, especially with that jab, she has a habit of backing straight up with her hands down. She appears particularly vulnerable to right hands in these situations due to her habit of predictably dipping her head rather than bringing her hands up, and a disinclination to check low kicks means a savvy opponent could compromise her ability to back out of range fairly quickly.
She can also be a bit too linear when she steps into the pocket, so simultaneous counters may be an issue for her.
In addition, she can take her foot off the gas as fights progress. She spent the first two rounds of the Demopoulos fight laying down a life-changing beating, only to let “Lil’ Monster” claw her way back through sheer activity. I’m not sure it’s a cardio thing; she still had enough in the tank to hold her own for the last 15 minutes, so it might just be a poor response to adversity. Either way, it’s something she needs to fix.
Then there’s her wrestling, which she seems to treat as a complementary accessory to her striking rather than a primary weapon. She’s equally adept at long-range shots, clinch takedowns, and catching kicks, after which she utilizes patient top control. Her takedown defense seems equally potent and she was able to kick Demopoulos off of her after the one time she ended up on her back, so she’s not a glass cannon, and she does a really good job of striking in transition.
I’ve definitely got high hopes for Godinez, who already looks like a potential contender just five fights into her pro career. With the improvement I saw between her penultimate and most recent bout, she’s clearly going places.
Opponent: She welcomes Jessica Penne back to the Octagon after an extended absence. Godinez has the sort of high-octane offense that Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Andrade used to bury Penne in the past, so the likeliest outcome sees her maul a rusty Penne in the opening round.
Tape: Her LFA title bout is on Fight Pass.
Dakota “Hairy” Bush
Weight Class: Lightweight
Record: 8-2 (2 KO, 4 SUB)
Notable Victories: Jose Martinez
Bush started his career perfect (3-0) before finding a home in LFA, where he amassed a 5-2 record. His current two-fight winning streak saw him stop Brian Del Rosario and Austin Clem in less than four minutes combined.
He replaces the injured Natan Levy on less than a week’s notice.
A former standout high school wrestler who went on to serve as a wrestling coach for the same program, Bush is unsurprisingly a takedown specialist with some nice ground control, passing, and back takes to back it up. That said, his defensive wrestling skills don’t appear to be up to the same standard, as Willis managed to control him against the fence and land takedowns of his own with regularity. Bush subsequently claimed that he’d never lose that way again, but that obviously remains to be seen.
Still, he’s dangerous and entertaining when he’s able to dictate the grappling exchanges.
On the feet, meanwhile, he’s definitely still developing, largely relying on single kicks at range before either blitzing with punches or changing levels for a takedown. His most recent win was definitely heartening, though, as he caught Clem with a nasty head kick after disengaging on the fence and crumpled him with the follow-up flurry. Still not world-class, but seemingly trending in the right direction.
Bush’s ceiling depends entirely on his ability to score takedowns against world-class opposition. Though I’m not convinced he’s there yet, he’s still got time to develop.
Opponent: He takes on the always gritty Austin “Thud” Hubbard. Hubbard’s struggled with persistent takedown artists in the past, but he’s also a far better striker than Bush and pushes the sort of pace that makes the short notice all the more punishing. While Bush does have a potential path to victory if he can rack up long stretches of top control, expect “Thud” to take over down the stretch.
Tape: His recent LFA bouts are on Fight Pass.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 24 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN2 “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.
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