WMMA Weekend Preview: Rin Nakai looks to prove she is more than a circus show vs. Sarah D'Alelio

Esther Lin

Four intriguing fights are taking place this weekend. They include #9 Flyweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Hannah Cifers moving down to 105lbs, #4 Flyweight Jennifer Maia and top bantamweight contest between Rin Nakai and #12 Sarah D'Alelio.

May 9 - #9 FLW Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karla Benitez - 125lbs - Arena MMA 1

May 9 - Hannah Cifers vs. Rachel Sazoff - 105lbs - XCC: Defiant

May 10 - #4 Jennifer Maia vs. Aline Serio - 125lbs -  Circuito Talent de MMA 9

May 11 - Rin Nakai vs. #12 Sarah D'Alelio - 135lbs - Pancrase 258


Nakai vs. D'Alelio

Nakai has long been scrutinized (her manager/management is also to blame) for 'can-crushing' and being something of a circus/freak show with her over-sexualized/muscle-woman promotion. However, put all that aside, and you have a seriously talented grappler facing off against a battle-tested veteran, who can propel Rin Nakai into legitimacy and a likely top 15 ranking.

Surprisingly, the very, very weird (at least by Western standards) Nakai 'promotional' videos have not been made or uploaded, even with the fight date so close. This one is the latest one I can find on the Pancrase channel, almost a year ago. I, for one, am slightly disappointed.

Sarah D'Alelio is, in my opinion, a strategically chosen opponent. Her strength is a wrestling based grappling and has proven herself to be a gatekeeper, losing to the likes of Kedzie, Rousey, Evinger, Murphy and Baszler while still scoring victories over Nunes and Porto. Incredibly, besides one stop-gap, D'Alelio has fought all the above mentioned fighters in a row. This is an intriguing fight with Nakai looking to move to 16-0-1 and D'Alelio looking to snap a 2-fight losing streak.

This fight and event will also take place in the "decagon", which you may be familiar with if you've watched World Series of Fighting, who have partnered with Pancrase.

Gonzales is no slouch. Yes, she's a 125er, but she knew the takedown was coming (again, yes that spinning back fist was a poor decision) and Nakai's only way to win was grappling. She couldn't shake Nakai off once she took her back standing and with less than 30 seconds left Nakai finds the choke.

Maia vs. Morais

Maia hasn't fought since July of 2013 when she lost in the FOTY candidate with Leslie Smith. She has decision victories over Zoila Frausto and current UFC 135er Jessica Andrade.

Morais is a prospect coming up in Brazil. She is only 19 and started fighting in 2012. Since then, she has picked up 4 victories with all finishes coming in the first round. I wish I had the exact numbers for fighters (with good records) facing their first test of experienced, top-level opponents without a steady build up. But, it's safe to say this probably won't end well for Mariana Morais.

It appears this will be streamed at 6pm Eastern Time on Saturday. No link yet. Check me on Twitter or this post for the link closer to the event.

Jedrzejczyk vs. Benitez

Update: This fight is actually taking place at 125lbs, but she is listed as a strawweight on the Invicta's website

It is always interesting when a top tier fighter decides to change weight classes as is the case with Joanna Jedrzejczyk (who I will be referring to as JJ). She defeated a veteran of the sport, Julia Berezikova, in only her 4th fight of her career, with ease.

JJ has not fought in MMA since June of 2013, but fortunately has stayed active with Muay Thai. In the past, she lost a decision to the well-accomplished champion, Amanda Kelly.

Karla Benitez is a low-level gate keeper on the non-North American scene. In her most recent outing (December 31st 2013) she got absolutely blown out of the water by Aisling Daly. Benitez is a good measuring stick for JJ's 115lbs debut.

If JJ can show the stand-out ability she showed at flyweight, here at strawweight, she is someone to definitely, definitely watch for. Just based on what she did at flyweight, and assuming she could make 115, I would put her over girls like Kagan and Chambers for the TUF house. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is signed with Invicta FC, at the moment, and with a good showing against Benitez will be a contender for the vacant 115 title.

Cifers vs. Sazoff

Cifers is a fighter I came across when she stepped in on short notice to fight Heather Clark, who I expect to be on TUF 20. She showcased her boxing (mixing it up to the body as well) and composure losing a decision (Clark had previously finished all 5 of her wins). Clark was losing the brawling exchanges to the much smaller Cifers before adapting and taking the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

Here are three instances of Cifers work to the body, then the head

if you open the gif in another tab or window and remove the "giant." you can pause, slow down, fast forward the gif

Hannah "Shockwave" Cifers, 21, will be moving down to atomweight for this next fight, and has fought twice for the full 20 minutes (5 4-minute rounds) in her amateur career.

Rachel Sazoff, 23, fights out of Ricardo Almeida's camp, but is 0-2 and has all of her losses come via decision (4 amateur, 2 pro).

Live stream available here

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