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Diggin’ Deep on TUF 25 Finale: Johnson vs. Gaethje - Fight Pass preview

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Peel back the layers of the TUF 25 Finale’s Fight Pass portion, featuring a pivotal women’s contest at strawweight between Tecia Torres and Juliana Lima.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Torres vs Rawlings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Is the UFC really promoting Grey Maynard and Teruto Ishihara over Tecia Torres and Juliana Lima? Hasn’t the UFC noticed that Maynard hasn’t been an active part of an exciting contest since completing his trilogy with Frankie Edgar? How about the fact Torres is on the short list of strawweights who have yet to face Joanna Jedrzejczyk that could give the champ problems?

To be fair, Ishihara is very easy to promote, even with the UFC stifling his catchphrase “I love my bitches!” Despite that, the youngster is still a long way away from scraping the top of his ceiling. Thus my confusion on the placement of these two contests. Oh well. More than likely, if you’re watching one of these fights, you’re watching the other.

The Fight Pass prelims begin at 6:00 PM ET/3:00 PM PT on Friday.

Gray Maynard (12-6-1, 1 NC) vs. Teruto Ishihara (10-3-2), Featherweight

I’m always game to see Ishihara, but I can’t say the same thing for Maynard. The former Michigan State wrestler has fallen a long way from his days of challenging Edgar for the lightweight title, picking up only two wins in his last nine contests. His chin has disintegrated, no longer able to take a flush shot without losing his equilibrium. Not a good trait to possess in the fight game. Maynard has improved his striking from the time when he was challenging for the title, stringing together slick boxing combinations. The problem is his chin has scared him away from committing to prolonged exchanges to properly take advantage of that improvement.

Ishihara isn’t the type to stand in the pocket and trade. No, the Japanese sensation relies heavily on his athletic ability to suddenly burst into his opponent with spinning techniques and powerful overhands. He uses a lot of energy doing so as he keeps the attack coming fast and furious early on, often leading to him simply looking to survive by the time the final round rolls around. That doesn’t mean he’s on the defensive. Ishihara is always looking for the finish even when he has depleted his gas tank.

Maynard still has his wrestling that he can fall back on and it’s hard to see him not securing at least one takedown against Ishihara. Ishihara’s wrestling is nonexistent, but he is active from the bottom in his attempts to escape and is a fantastic scrambler. What I’m getting at is Maynard has a clear avenue to victory, provided he can avoid Ishihara’s early onslaught. There is a good chance he’ll be able to do that, but it’s more likely Ishihara finds a home for his fist on Maynard’s chin. Ishihara via KO, RD1

Tecia Torres (8-1) vs. Juliana Lima (9-3), Women’s Bantamweight

Lima was originally scheduled to face Amanda Ribas before Ribas was flagged by USADA for a potential PED violation. Now with Torres stepping in, there is more interest in this contest than there was before.

Considering Torres’ potential title contendership, it’s hard for fans not to take more notice. Torres doesn’t possess much in terms of raw power with every single one of her professional contests going the distance. That hardly means Torres is lacking in the striking department. Her distance management may be the best in the division, successfully navigating her opponent’s attack while getting off her outside striking attack despite her miniscule 5'1" frame and 60" reach.

Despite having a five-inch reach advantage, don’t look for Lima to try and trade from the outside. Instead, anticipate Lima trying to close the distance, grinding away in the clinch against the fence as she looks for takedowns. She doesn’t stay very active on the ground with her strikes nor has she presented herself as a submission threat. On the feet, Lima’s leg kicks have been the most consistent weapon, followed by her jab. It isn’t pretty, but it is effective…or at least it has been against debuting fighters.

Only one of Lima’s UFC contests have come against an opponent not making their UFC debut, Carla Esparza. Lima has been feasting on newcomers. Torres is a tested veteran despite her relative youth. Given Torres’ ability to avoid opponent’s takedown attempts, I see her picking up her second win in a row to potentially set her up for a number one contender’s fight. Torres via decision