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UFC 265 - New Blood: The cat came back

UFC 265, which will take place inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, tomorrow night (Sat., Aug. 7, 2021) has remained remarkably intact, leaving just one Octagon newcomer to ply her trade. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I kick myself for throwing out old breakdowns when their subjects withdrew from their debuts, we check out a Brazilian finisher first signed in 2019.

LIVE! Watch UFC 286 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

CHAMPIONSHIP TRILOGY! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to The O2 in London England, on Sat., March 18, 2023, with newly-minted Welterweight kingpin, Leon Edwards, running it back with former 170-pound champion, Kamaru Usman, for a third (and likely final) time. In UFC 286’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, all-action Lightweight knockout artists, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, will lock horns with the winner inching closer to a future Lightweight title shot.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Melissa Gatto

Weight Class: Flyweight
Age: 25
Record: 6-0-2 (4 SUB)
Notable Victories: Karol Rosa

After fighting Brazilian regional veteran Sidy Rocha to a draw, Gatto returned to Cris Cyborg’s “Nacao Cyborg” promotion to face future UFC contender Karol Rosa. Gatto’s grappling won her the day, locking up a triangle kimura in transition for her fourth professional submission win.

This marks her first fight in nearly three years, as three separate Octagon debuts fell though.

As a disclaimer, it’s pretty much guaranteed that my analysis will be well out-of-date. Gatto is only 25 years old and hasn’t fought since 2018. Fighters this young can easily make enormous strides in that span of time, so I don’t at all expect to see the same Gatto as in the footage.

Nevertheless, said footage shows a decent ground specialist held back by poor wrestling and still-developing striking. Against 1-0 Kethylen Rothenburg in 2018, Gatto simply grabbed a body lock as quickly as possible, worked her way to mount, and locked up an armbar. She had much less success against the more experienced Rocha, however. While she landed both the body lock takedown and a long-range double-leg, Rocha swept into top position within about five seconds each time, and her brief attempts at stand up featured little other than low kicks, persistent circling and arm punches.

She couldn’t get much going during Rocha’s lengthy stretches of top control, attempting multiple half-guard sweeps, but struggling to dislodge her. Her submissions weren’t much of a threat, either, and she largely contented herself with strikes off of her back. Her big moment came in the third round, when she managed to lock up an ultimately unsuccessful triangle in transition.

She also seemed weirdly insistent on trying to attack when Rocha touched gloves, which is just a bad look.

To her credit, she looked a bit sharper during her four minutes in the cage with Rosa. While her takedown defense remained weak, she did hit a sweep from guard and once again showed her ability in transition by catching Rosa in a fight-ending submission mid-scramble. What little stand up she showcased also seemed more fluid, though there wasn’t much data to analyze.

That’s the long and short of it: good opportunistic submissions, decent sweeps, developing striking. If she hasn’t put together a proper wrestling game during her time away, however, she’s not getting very far.

Opponent: Gatto takes on “Contender Series” grad Victoria Leonardo, last seen falling to fast-rising prospect Manon Fiorot. “Fury” would run over the 2018 version of Gatto with her suffocating wrestling, so the Brazilian’s success will come down to the adjustments and improvements she’s made since then.


Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 265 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 265: “Lewis vs. Gane” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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