Women's Bantamweight Bethe Correia vs. Shayna Baszler
The return of the four horseman!
Oh right. I forgot Shayna was part of this pro wrestling schtick her, Ronda Rousey, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir have going. I'll be perfectly honest and say I know absolutely nothing about the four horseman, or the four horsewomen.
So neither Ric Flare, nor Jim Crowley?
The cool thing about this fight is that we're getting something that just hasn't been present lately: a modest rivalry. Sure, there was the whole Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier vs. innocent bystanders vs. Dave Sholler press conference. But rivalries don't need the volume turned all the way up, and set to Tyson vs. Lewis to be interesting. Sometimes less is more.
A rivalry? Where?
For those that don't know, when Bethe beat Jessamyn Duke at UFC 172, she stuck up four fingers, quickly folding one of them down. It was a wink that did not go unnoticed. And it also a point that Ariel Helwani seemed to make in subtle fashion when criticizing the four horsewomen schtick by asking whether it's more important to get actual victories first, and earning the nickname second.
I don't know why Ariel should get flack for that. It's a completely legitimate point. To that end, Shayna needs to improve/rediscover. To be fair, many casual and hardcore fans have tried to restrict her decline to her loss on TUF. Yes, it looks bad on paper. An eleven year veteran of MMA often heralded for her talent, and gamesmanship, to lose to a "TUFer" does nothing for her self image other than maker her look "washed up" in some eyes.
I would call that that an unfair characterization. After all, Julianna Pena would go on to win the show.
So Shayna is +125. Good bet?
Yes and no. One of the things Correia did so well against Duke that wasn't easily predictable, was be so effective on the feet, looking much more polished boxing with her combinations. Yes, Duke didn't use her range well, but credit where credit is due. Bethe was active when it came to restricting Duke's movement, and position. It's easy to criticize tall fighters as if they should be able to out strike shorter fighters naturally, but sometimes harder to figure out how the shorter fighter is able to be efficient.
Correia is undefeated in her mixed martial arts career, and has won all of her fights by decision except one. It's not the lack of distinction it looks like. She has made significant improvements to her game dating back to her fight with Julie Kedzie.
For Baszler, the main thing is trying to find a rhythm. She's had three professional fights since 2010, which is ages in MMA terms. Yes, she had a run on TUF, but for a fighter with her style, activity can be important.
Baszler has always prided herself on that catch wrestling style, which is fitting for someone who started out training via videos Josh Barnett would send to her. She has a very urgent style on the ground, constantly looking for whatever submission she can find. 14 of her 15 victories are by submission. There's definitely a shade of Rumina Sato to her game.
She's also tough, and durable for a fighter with her style.
She's never been finished in the first round!
Thanks Mike Goldberg. That's probably exactly something he will say too. Like how he had to give Joe Lauzon dap at UFC 155 against Jim Miller for having "never lost more than one fight in a row!"
Anyway, Shayna is still raw on the feet. She's not a bad striker for the division, but she has absolutely zero power. Just none at all. It's actually impressive she hasn't managed to finish anyone by strikes given how long she's been fighting women's MMA. This isn't meant to be insult: her submission prowess has been more than enough, and it should stay that away. I just find it kind of interesting.
And on that note, I'm gonna pick Bethe for being the much better fighter on the feet, which is where I think she can keep it. Her takedown defense is pretty good, and while I don't predict her to stay on the feet the entire time, I do think she can stay out of harm's way when it does go to the ground.
Bethe Correia by Decision.