The UFC takes to Sacramento, California with an interesting card, which features a main event between Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson. This is no doubt a test by the UFC to see just how much drawing power VanZant, but she is in for a tough test against the former Invicta atomweight champion.
The four-fight main card also features Urijah Faber’s last fight, as he takes on Brad Pickett to end a historic career.
Paige VanZant vs Michelle Waterson
Paige VanZant is coming off a highlight reel knockout of Bec Rawlings in her last outing, as ’12 Gauge’ landed a huge jumping switch kick to finish the Aussie. That was a microcosm of VanZant, as it showed off her knockout ability and her athleticism, plus her stubbornness because she tried that kick four times before finally landing it.
Like many Team Alpha Male members, VanZant is a pressure-based fighter who moves forward and tries to goat her opponents into mistakes. She likes to clinch up with her opponent and work them against the cage so she can make a fight dirty. However, VanZant’s defense is still questionable on the feet and she has been outstruck in both of her last two bouts.
VanZant is big, aggressive and trains at TAM, which basically means she is a damn good wrestler. She will look to land a takedown along the cage after wearing down her opponents, which an affinity for takedowns that focus on the head or arm. Is it always pretty? No. But it’s effective.
So far, the biggest issues with VanZant have come from her age and relative inexperience. Sometimes she has a tendency to try something over and over again until it works or until it causes her to lose. If the 22-year-old is able to work on in fight adjustments, she will be in a good spot.
Michelle Waterson is an extremely versatile fighter who has a tendency to find a way to stop the fight early. In her 13 pro victories, ‘The Karate Hottie’ has eight by way of submission and three via knockout.
Waterson has been training in karate since the age of 10 and holds a black belt in American Free Style Karate. This experience has made her one of the best strikers in the strawweight division, as her footwork and technique are paralleled by very few. Her hands are solid, but it’s Waterson’s feet that are truly deadly as she can land kicks just as quickly to the body as the head.
The former atomweight fighter is not much of a wrestler, especially since she is generally undersized fighting at 115 lbs. If Waterson gets caught with her back on the cage, there is a very good chance she is getting taken down. However, Waterson is deadly on the ground, as she is great at scrambling and capitalizing on any potential submissions that opponents’ leave.
As already mentioned, Waterson’s biggest issue is her size. She is quick and technically sound, but VanZant will likely be able to bully her in the early rounds. If ‘The Karate Hottie’ can survive the early flurry, her technique should start to shine through.
The Rest Of The Main Card
The co-main event features promising youngsters with Sage Northcutt (EVEN) taking on Mickey Gall (-130). Northcutt is absurdly athletic and has a lifetime of karate experience. This shows through in his footwork and movement in the cage. He is extremely green, something you expect from a 20-year old, and has shown holes in his wrestling defense and working from his back. Gall is surprisingly well rounded for a fighter with just three pro fights, as he began boxing at age 13, began training in BJJ at 16 and was on his high school wrestling team. The New Jersey native’s strength is his grappling, as he has won all three of his pro fights via first round submission. Gall has never been tested in his pro career, as no opponent could stop his takedowns or last longer than three minutes.
Urijah Faber (-450) ends his legendary career in front of his hometown when he takes on veteran Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett (+325). Faber looks to push the pace in his fights, as he is always aggressively moving forward for takedowns or throwing looping bombs. ‘The California Kid’ is all about power his opponent to the ground and aggressively pursuing submissions. Pickett is an extremely exciting fighter who loves to stand and brawl, but this has also become one of his biggest issues in the later stages of his career. ‘One Punch’ has pretty good power in his hands, but his chin has deteriorated and has exposed his poor striking defense. Pickett is a solid wrestler, but he has a tendency to underutilize this skill.
A couple of interesting welterweights clash when Mike Perry (-135) and Alan Jouban (+105) open the main card. Perry is a powerhouse of a fighter who has ended all nine of his nine pro fights via knockout. ‘Platinum’ walks his opponent down and keeps his hands low, basically daring his opponent to throw a punch at him. Perry is still green when it comes to wrestling, but he is strong and always looking for ground and pound if the fight gets to the mat. Jouban actually has many of the same skills as Perry, as ‘Brahma’ is an aggressive striker (though more technical than his opponent) with solid ground skills. Jouban is a much more varied striker, as he will throw plenty of highlight-worthy kicks to go along with his punches, knees and elbows. The gist, expect these two guys to stand and heave strikes at one another.
UFC on Fox 22: Paige VanZant vs Michelle Waterson Betting Odds
Odds as of December 14 at Bovada
- Paige VanZant -120
- Michelle Waterson -110
- Mickey Gall -130
- Sage Northcutt EVEN
- Urijah Faber -450
- Brad Pickett +325
- Mike Perry -135
- Alan Jouban +105
- Claudio Henrique Da Silva -225
- Paul Craig +175
- Alex Morono -115
- James Moontasri -115
- Josh Emmett -190
- Scott Holtzman +155
- Leslie Smith +240
- Irene Aldana -310
- Eddie Wineland -225
- Takeya Mizugaki +175
- Hector Sandoval -130
- Fredy Serrano EVEN
- Bojan Velickovic -155
- Sultan Aliev +125