Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) sees strawweights Michelle Waterson and Amanda Lemos looking to climb the rankings when they meet this weekend (Sat., July 16, 2022) at UFC Long Island inside UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York.
Waterson has been a mainstay at 115 pounds since joining the promotion in 2015 and she’s fought a “Who’s Who” of the division. Lemos is newer to the Octagon, but has impressed with a string of hard-hitting victories. Both women are coming off losses, and are on the wrong side of 35, so the pressure will be on here to score a big win and build toward a possible last shot at UFC gold.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each fighter:
Key Wins: Angela Hill (UFC Vegas 10), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC on ESPN2), Felice Herrig (UFC 229).
Key Losses: Marina Rodriguez (UFC Vegas 24), Carla Esparza (UFC 249), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC on ESPN+ 19), Tecia Torres (UFC 218), Rose Namajunas (UFC on FOX 24).
Keys to Victory: Waterson deserves a lot of credit for surviving as long as she has in UFC’s Strawweight division, despite being more suited for the Atomweight category (which UFC maddeningly has never introduced).
At 115 pounds, she’s faced former and future champs and title challengers and come up short against some of the best fighters of her generation. She comes into this fight the underdog (complete odds here), despite her opponent not having the same kind of experience or wins on her record.
In her last fight against Marina Rodriguez — who fights a lot like Amanda Lemos — Waterson tried to utilize her quickness and footwork to get in and out of range without taking damage. However, Rodriguez was able to out-box Waterson in their clashes and wear her down with power shots. Waterson was able to get a breather in the fourth when she took down Rodriguez, but ultimately she ate too many hard strikes either side of that moment to ever make the judges’ decision close.
If Waterson uses this performance as a template, she might decide that mixing more takedowns into her game could be beneficial. Lemos appears to hit as hard, if not harder, than Rodriguez, so Waterson will be best served to try being even more evasive in this fight and look to hit those takedowns when a frustrated Lemos over-commits on striking.
Key Wins: Angela Hill (UFC Vegas 45), Montserrat Ruiz (UFC Vegas 31), Livia Renata Souza (UFC 259).
Key Losses: Jessica Andrade (UFC Vegas 52), Leslie Smith (UFC Fight Night 113).
Keys to Victory: Lemos’ shine dulled a little after her last performance, a submission loss to Jessica Andrade. I think that’s unfair, though. Andrade is a tough out for anyone in at least three of UFC’s women’s divisions.
That loss came after five straight wins that showcased Lemos as one of the most powerful punchers in her division. TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter shared some numbers that back-up that assessment. Lemos, he writes, has the highest knockdown rate per 15 minutes and most total knockdowns of any female fighter in UFC history.
#UFCLongIsland By the Numbers: Is Amanda Lemos the heaviest hitting pound-for-pound female fighter in UFC history? She boasts the highest knockdown rate per 15 minutes and most knockdowns landed of any female fighter in UFC history. pic.twitter.com/8gBm8Ofucs— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) July 13, 2022
Given her remarkable power, and what we saw in Waterson vs. Rodriguez, Lemos’ key to victory is to hit Waterson hard and often. Waterson has shown great durability, going the distance with Rodriguez and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. But, all those wars add up. If Lemos can catch-up to Waterson and land with consistency, she’ll feel pretty confident about being the first person to knockout Waterson inside the Octagon.
Of course, to land that offense she’ll need to stay on her feet. I don’t foresee Lemos having too much trouble in that department. She has an 88 percent success rate on avoiding takedowns. Waterson has just a 34 percent success rate on landing takedowns. Lemos, a former Bantamweight, is also much larger and stronger than Waterson.
Despite both women being about the same age, Waterson is definitely playing gatekeeper in this match up. Lemos, coming off her first loss in the Strawweight division, will be highly motivated to make an impact on Saturday night with hopes of getting into the title picture before her time in the sport is over. She’s a heavy favorite to do so and, if she can pile the pressure on Waterson and not get taken down, she should have enough firepower to win the contest.
Waterson has experience on her side for this one, though. Especially when you consider she just fought someone like Lemos. She may have learned a tough lesson last time out and could be prepared to make amends. If she can out maneuver her power-punching foe and use wrestling to her advantage, maybe she can squeak out a win.
At UFC Long Island it’s a battle between a former Invicta champion and a former Jungle Fight champion, but only one will move on from this one with a real shot at getting a sniff at UFC gold before they hang up the gloves for good.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Long Island fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 2 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Long Island: “Ortega vs. Yair” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.