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UFC Vegas 32 - New Blood: Taekwondo to the rescue!

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Amateur careers aren’t nearly as widespread or lengthy in mixed martial arts (MMA) as they are in boxing, but every once in a while you’ll find a newcomer who took their time before jumping into the pros. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I get progressively more frustrated at Fight Pass’ and ESPN+’s search issues, we look at an unbeaten Taekwondo specialist with an impressive tenure in the unpaid ranks.

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Elise Reed

Weight Class: Strawweight/Flyweight
Age: 28
Record: 4-0 (2 KO)
Notable Victories: Hilarie Rose, Jasmine Jasudavicius

Reed spent 5.5 years as an amateur before turning professional in 2019, amassing a 7-1 record with five finishes along the way. Though brief by comparison, her professional career has already seen her upset unbeaten Jasmine Jasudavicius for the CFFC Strawweight championship and make two successful defenses.

She steps in for Priscila Cachoeira on around three weeks’ notice.

Reed sports a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo, which shows itself in her high-volume, kick-heavy striking attack. She uses solid footwork to either stalk opponents, as she did in her last two bouts, or circle and pick them apart at range, as she did against the clinch- and takedown-focused Jasudavicius. Her boxing mostly comprises lengthy flurries of jabs and crosses, which pack a surprising amount of power and can come from unexpected angles because of that aforementioned footwork.

When she’s really found her offensive rhythm, she’s something to behold, landing impressive combinations and sneaking in fancy tricks like a side kick with the same leg she just used to throw a roundhouse. She does, however, have a potentially serious problem with her striking: her footwork is her only defense. Low hands and a fairly static head, which she only really takes off the center line when throwing her right cross, leave her vulnerable to counters and steady pressure once she runs out of real estate in the cage. Jasudavicius had a ton of success walking her down earlier in that fight, and it wasn’t until Reed landed enough right hands to keep her honest that she started to find success.

Some of those issues crop up in her grappling. Outside of throwing naked, catchable kicks, Reed has a bad habit of trying to rack up damage when defending takedowns instead of disengaging. She’ll sprawl or get underhooks, then start trying to smash with hammer fists or elbows, which allows sufficiently capable chain wrestlers to ultimately drag her down. This can admittedly work out in her favor; her elbows and punches from top position are nasty, fight-finishing stuff, and she’s pretty good at sweeping her way out of mount. Other times, however, she can end up stuck on her back in guard and lose the round in the process.

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate her lust for violence or that it’s necessarily a bad approach in the long run, just that she needs to beef up her takedown defense before trying to fight like that.

Reed’s striking alone makes her an interesting addition to the Strawweight roster. And if she can tighten up that defensive grappling, she can definitely find her way into the Top 15 before long.

Opponent: She moves up 10 pounds to face Sijara Eubanks, who’s attempting to return to the weight after mixed success at 135 pounds. Reed’s clearly the better striker, and if the weight cut takes its toll on Eubanks, she’s got the skills to wear her down for the upset. Those grappling issues are just too glaring for me to pick her against a world-class ground specialist, though, especially one who figures to have a massive size advantage. So long as “Sarj” doesn’t destroy herself trying to make weight, she should be able to grind her way to victory.

Tape: Her CFFC bouts are on Fight Pass.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 32 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 32: “Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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