The increasing prominence of mixed martial arts (MMA) means more and more fighters are getting incredibly early starts, and the sole newbie debuting at UFC Vegas 65 this weekend (Sat., Nov. 19, 2022) in Las Vegas, Nevada, is no exception. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series I’m made increasingly obsolete by Contender Series, we check out an undefeated wunderkind out of the Czech Republic.
Tereza “Ronda” Bleda
Weight Class: Flyweight
Record: 6-0 (2 KO, 2 SUB)
Notable Victories: Mabelly Lima, Nayara Maia
Bleda followed her perfect (6-0) amateur career, which began when she was just 15, with finishes in four of her first five professional bouts. A ground-and-pound finish of Mabelly Lima earned her the Oktagon Flyweight title and a spot on Contender Series, where she dominated the unbeaten Nayara Maia to secure a UFC contract.
As you’ve probably guessed from her nickname, the 5’9” Bleda does her best work on the mat. She has an excellent level change both on offense and as a reaction when opponents step in, and once she locks her hands or catches one of your kicks, you’re going for a ride. While in guard or half guard, she plays a pressure-heavy game, occasionally opening up with punches or elbows but focusing more on working her way into dominant position. There, she can really posture up and use her relatively towering frame to drop surprisingly vicious punches and elbows. She absolutely massacred Lima, a Contender Series alum, with that onslaught.
It’s been fun watching her progress on the ground. She seemed a bit overeager and prone to losing position as recently as last year, but looked far more stable on top against a capable grappler in Maia. When she did end up on her back in a leg lock scramble, she immediately flipped Maia over and regained top position. The amount of damage she can do with her ground-and-pound and the dangerous bottom game that caught Edna Oliveira in an armbar make her a real problem, even if the nickname is a bit presumptuous.
Her striking is a work in progress, and by that I mean she’s actually making progress. While she still stands too tall, struggles with low kicks, and lacks speed, she’s become a competent boxer. Her right hand is surprisingly sharp and her jab is coming along nicely; also of note are her clinch knees, which nearly finished Maia. Her own low kicks are still a liability, however, as they’re not properly set up and leave her chin exposed.
There’s the framework of a style that makes use of her height and reach. It’s just still in development.
I really like what I see out of Bleda. She’s experienced despite her age, improving fight-by-fight, and already a capable finisher. Give her a couple more years of seasoning and she’ll be a definite contender.
Opponent: She faces an incredibly stiff test in Natalia Silva, who demolished Jasmine Jasudavicius on the heels of a 2.5-year layoff. And her mobile, powerful striking presents a serious issue for the flat-footed and hittable Bleda. Therefore, Bleda needs to catch Silva’s kicks and take her down quick, otherwise she’s going to get picked apart by a much more seasoned kickboxer.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 65 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 4 p.m. ET.
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