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UFC Vegas 40 preview: What does Aspen Ladd have in the tank after latest botched weight cut?

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Get the scoop on UFC Vegas 40’s main card action headlined by Aspen Ladd stepping in on short notice to challenge Norma Dumont at featherweight.

Aspen Ladd after her win over Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Washington
Aspen Ladd after her win over Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Washington
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t enjoy crapping all over a card. Who does that benefit? But this is a crap card. I’m sure some who read this regularly might disagree that I don’t enjoy saying that as I have crapped on a number of cards and will continue to do so in my obligation to be honest. After all, if there is a baseline of quality to these UFC cards that is considered average, then by definition some of these cards have to be below average. UFC Vegas 40 is unquestionably below average.

Though kudos should go to Aspen Ladd for stepping up on short notice to ensure Norma Dumont stayed on the card, but do we really want to call it a main event? It takes the cake by default. Think about it; when y’all discussed Fight Night main events with your MMA buddies y’all needed to see, when did you bring up Ladd vs. Dumont? What’s that? It wasn’t originally scheduled as the main event? True, and Holly Holm vs. Dumont wasn’t even the original main event as Miesha Tate’s COVID diagnosis moved her contest with Ketlen Vieira. Regardless, Ladd vs. Dumont was never a fight on anyone’s radar. The undercard doesn’t come to the rescue either. While each and every fighter deserves respect for stepping into the cage, I have to call it as I see it: this is a bad UFC card.

Click here for my prelims preview.

Aspen Ladd vs. Norma Dumont, Women’s Featherweight

This main event is even worse than it appears at first glance... and that is saying something. Ladd was available to step in after botching her weight cut from an event scheduled two weeks prior to this one. It went badly enough that she was visibly shaking on the scale as a result of the effects of the weight cut. This has happened to Ladd before and the results weren’t good, lasting a total of 16 seconds against Germaine de Randamie. While this fight is taking place two weeks after that scary weigh-in – and at 145 as opposed to 135 – the effects of botched weight cuts add up and this is her second weight cut in two weeks. Yikes.

Another factor that makes it worth debating how good Ladd will look is how she’s used to being the larger fighter in the cage. The only opponent who was definitively larger than Ladd is also her lone loss, de Randamie. Of course, Ladd didn’t have enough time to attempt a takedown in that contest, but it leaves open the question of how effective Ladd’s physicality will translate against larger competition. The argument has been made she won’t be cutting as much weight, but again, she is likely already compromised from her botched weight cut two weeks ago.

If Ladd can get the fight to the mat, she’s an absolute beast from the top position. Soft-spoken outside of the cage, Ladd morphs into something primal when she gets the top position, unleashing some of the most brutal GnP seen in the sport. She has a rudimentary standup game that’s heavily dependent on her raw power scaring off her opponents from wanting to engage. However, Ladd’s lack of defense isn’t hard to detect, even for a fan with an untrained eye.

That gives Dumont an excellent chance of upending Ladd. Though there were few who expected Dumont to develop into a standout, she has shown unexpected development in her striking in every subsequent contest. Against Felicia Spencer, Dumont utilized good use of distance to avoid Spencer’s offense while landing her own fair share of simple punching combos and front kicks. Throw in that Dumont has been prepping for a five-round fight for weeks and Ladd is taking the fight on short notice, it isn’t out of the question to see Dumont outpoint Ladd. Dumont doesn’t force anything, but is certainly capable of putting Ladd on her butt with a heavy shot.

The biggest X-factor for Ladd’s scheduled contest with Macy Chiasson hasn’t even been brought up: her knee. Ladd’s last fight took place almost two years ago due to a major reconstructive knee surgery. While it’s plausible Ladd’s knee will be as good as new, there’s no guarantee of that. If this contest was made with all things equal – no previous bad weight cut for Ladd, knowing her knee is sound, prepping for five rounds – I’d be taking Ladd. As it is, there’s too many X-factors for me to feel confident picking her given Dumont’s continued improvement. Dumont via decision

  • At 42, over 20 years after his UFC debut, Andrei Arlovski is still bouncing around the heavyweight division, still pulling out victories. Given it was over a decade ago when many were declaring his chin was broken and he was shot, it’s a mini-miracle he’s still relevant in any way, shape, or form. As his formerly freakish athletic skills have declined, he has become a more technical striker than he was at any previous point in his career, including possessing a better knowledge of how to roll with punches and avoiding KO blows. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do against Carlos Felipe as the pudgy Brazilian appears to lack the typical KO power possessed by most UFC heavyweights. He’s been able to make up for that with impressive durability and far more stamina than anyone would think by looking at his frame. Arlovski’s physical skills have noticeably diminished – after remaining prevalent longer than anyone would have expected – but I’m not sure Felipe exceeds him in that department. Regardless, at Arlovski’s age, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he fell off a cliff. I don’t think he does here, but I wouldn’t touch this fight if I were a betting man. Arlovski via decision
  • What we’re going to get out of Jim Miller is easy to predict at this point. Either he snags a first round submission or he loses. If you’re aware of Miller, this is easy to figure out. The record holder for most UFC appearances, Miller has acquired all sorts of tricks of the tricks of the trade over the years. Overconfident youngsters tend to walk into their contests believing they can physically overwhelm the aging vet and he catches them in a compromising position. However, if they can survive the opening round, Miller’s stamina isn’t what it once was and he can be worn down in a hurry. That’ll be the goal of a debuting Erick Gonzalez. The newcomer is lanky, durable, and aggressive... perhaps too aggressive. Even if Gonzalez is able to avoid Miller’s early takedown attempts, Miller has proven capable of snagging a limb or neck while standing. Miller is at a point in his career where the wheels could come off at any moment – he is the all-time leader in UFC appearances after all – which gives Gonzalez a chance to take the last couple of rounds for the win. I wouldn’t count on it. Miller via submission of RD1
  • It’s a stark contrast from when this contest was originally scheduled on UFC 266, but Mayra Bueno Silva and Manon Fiorot is one of the most anticipated contests on this card. Debuting earlier this year, Fiorot has already made a splash, some predicting she’ll be fighting for the title by 2023. Watching her tear apart Victoria Leonardo and Tabitha Ricci without context, those predictions make a lot of sense as Fiorot looked like a world-beater. Of course, both Leonardo and Ricci were making their UFC debuts in those contests, so context allows for one to pump the brakes a bit more. Fiorot has the kickboxing skills to make those predictions come true, but it will be dependent on how well her takedown defense holds up. Good news for Fiorot: Silva has yet to attempt a takedown in the UFC, much less complete one. She has benefitted from opponents not respecting her ground game as the Brazilian is a skilled grappler, but she’d rather trust in her toughness and athleticism and slug it out on the feet. She’s in trouble if she opts to do that with Fiorot. It’s hard to trust she won’t do that when an attempt to go to the mat hasn’t been made in four UFC contests. Not that SIlva can’t catch Fiorot, but I’ll side with the more decorated striker. Fiorot via decision
  • To some, Julian Marquez is best known as that fighter that asked Miley Cyrus to be his Valentine on live television. Regardless, even if one thinks that rivaled Henry Cejudo for the title of King of Cringe, it did prove he’s willing to do anything to gain notoriety. There’s a part of me that wishes Marquez would be content to build his brand based on his in-cage work as he’s rarely – perhaps never – in a boring fight. A hard-hitting brawler with an iron chin, he’s picked up all his UFC wins with submission chops most weren’t even aware that he had. It’ll be a surprise if he resorts to those against Jordan Wright since Wright is sure to give him a standup battle. Though it can’t be said definitively that Wright is the hardest hitter Marquez has faced, that argument can be made and Marquez has faced some heavy hitters. Of course, Wright’s effectiveness only extends into the second round as the karateka wastes no time in going for the killshot, draining his energy levels in a mighty hurry. I wouldn’t count out Wright landing something heavy early, but if the fight extends beyond two minutes, I’m punching the Marquez ticket all the way. Marquez via TKO of RD1