This April 4, 2015 the women try to once again steal the man show for the Mendes vs. Lamas Fight Night on Fox Sports 1 at the Venue Patriot Center in City Fairfax, Virginia
The Match Up
Women's Bantamweight Julianna Peña 5-2 vs. Milana Dudieva
Women's Bantamweight Julianna Peña -280 vs. Milana Dudieva +240
3 Things You Should Know
1. Phrases like "ring rust" are usually just pre-packaged talking points, but Pena hasn't competed since 2013 after blowing out her ACL, MCL, LCL, and...well, basically the worst parts of the Bible. There is absolutely concern over how injuries might affect her future.
This feels a little dramatic, but then again Pena suffered a dramatic injury, with a mix of odd controversy to go along with it. At 25 years of age, Pena has the potential to be more than just a TUF'er from a forgotten season. She doesn't scream blue chip talent, but perhaps there's blue crumb talent that can rise from the ligament ashes in a division starving for contenders. Still, I can't help but sense shades of Shogun. Sure Pena never accomplished anything close to what Rua did, but it's hard to underestimate the effect of losing pretty much all of the connective tissue in any part of your body in a sport that requires the sacrifice of said body to begin with.
2. Don't be fooled by Milana's stature, or look. She's a brawling Wanderlei Silva in a Russian petit friggin body.
One of the things missing from the women's division by virtue of its nascence is a sense of that rogue's gallery; all of the unique characters we've come to appreciate in this sport. Dudieva is one of those women. Even if she ends up being the Leonard Garcia of BW, who cares? The division needs life and character. Not that it's sinking. But every division needs fighters like this. I mean just look at this insanity against Jessica Andrade. It's why I can't be bothered to care too much for her inexplicable win over Elizabeth Phillips. The universe tends to unfold as it should. Phillips will rebound, and Dudieva will entertain. Appreciate it while you can.
3. Nothing wrong with the odds, but it's still a fascinating bout for more than a few reasons.
I don't know how else to tell you to watch this fight. Dudeiva is a possessed fighter, winging one of the most akward right hands you'll ever see. However, for all of its flaws on the surface, it's an effective punch, and an example of the "Russian pitch" I've talked about before. She throws it in such a way as to be functionally southpaw despite fighting from a traditional stance. Tag to that a high octane grappling game, and you have what sounds like the perfect action fighter. Sort of.
Pena has a similarly aggressive style. While she has a stock right left combination, she throws it while moving forward and maintaining pressure. It's a little more controlled than what Dudieva manages, and Pena owns a solid ground game as well. I favor Pena not because I'm skeptical she'll be as effective after her injuries, but because Dudieva just doesn't fight to her strengths. She fights like some tweaking bolo addict on Bane juice. More to the point, while she looks violent, she's not that violent. Her power doesn't carry over well despite the theatricality. And she's a frontrunner on top of that.
Dudieva is a tempting pick. Again, she's fighting a Pena who required the lay off for unfortunate reasons, and Pena is hittable to top it off (to the legs and head, no less). Still, she'll have plenty left in the tank after Dudieva unloads those tomahawk missiles she walks around with.
Julianna Pena by Decision.