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Welcome to the UFC: Cindy Dandois

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One of the most notable names in WMMA outside the UFC is set to make her debut for the promotion against Alexis Davis.

Cindy Dandois Esther Lin/Invicta FC

If you’ve been following WMMA for a while now, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of who Cindy Dandois is. Once considered something of a notable ‘specialist’ in the game, her recent run of success for Invicta has made her one of the most notable women in MMA outside the UFC. Or at least she was, right up until she signed a contract with the promotion. The UFC announced Dandois’ signing via press release. She’s currently set to take on Alexis Davis at UFC Nashville on April 22. So...

Who is Cindy Dandois?

“Battlecat,” as she’s also known, is 32-year-old fighter from Deurne, Belgium. She trains out of Perfect Team at home, but has also spent a lot of time lately working with Miesha Tate in Thailand. Dandois will make her way to the UFC with an 8-2 pro record, holding notable wins over Marloes Coenen (in her pro debut), Sheila Gaff, Jorina Barrs, and Megan Anderson. Dandois’ only two losses come to current Invicta bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger, and the woman who just defeated Evinger (later overturned) Yana Kunitskaya. Dandois notably took nearly 4 years away from MMA in the middle of her career, returning in 2014 to face Evinger. Since that return loss she is 3-0.

What you should expect:

Despite her strong winning record and good opposition, Dandois was considered something of an afterthought in MMA by the time she returned in 2014. Part of that was due to her long layoff, but mostly it was down to her extremely specialized skill set. Dandois is a very good grappler. So much so that it overshadows any other part of her game.

And while that’s still true, the key to her success in MMA hasn’t just been a very aggressive and dedicated grappling game, but an unexpectedly nuanced wrestling game to go with it. Dandois’ striking is not good, but she knows it and uses front kicks to create separation, forcing opponents to try and rush in from way outside and close distance on her as she waits on her back foot. From there, she has a really well timed double leg, and a number of foot-sweep body-lock takedowns she can work if her first attempt is stuffed.

Even if Dandois can’t take an opponent down and maintain top control, she’s completely willing to go for a sacrifice throw or just pull guard. Anything that gets a foe to the mat and in contact with her. She’s got a great triangle-armbar series off her back, and when on top, does a fantastic job cutting through guard to get mount and look for ground and pound. Much like Eric Spicely, Dandois is a dangerous opponent because she is dedicated to working a versatile ground game that only requires an opponent to engage her.

What this means for her debut:

There’s no reason that Alexis Davis can’t beat Cindy Dandois. Evinger subbed her, Kunitskaya KO’d her. However, Davis is one of the better veterans for Dandois to enter against. Davis is a much better, more natural striker than Dandois, but she’s hardly a KO threat, and often has to win standup battles by pressuring and staying busy. More than that, Davis is completely unafraid to go to the ground, as she does her own best work there. Hopefully that makes for a grappling heavy fight that may be something of a tossup as to who gets the submission or dominates position. I’d still lean Davis as she has more tools and does better keeping control, but I’d expect a pretty back and forth fight if Davis can’t keep it standing.

To get better acquainted, here’s Dandois’ last bout against Anjela Pink at ExciteFight in November 2016: