MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of UFC 225’s top bouts, and today, we look at the rest of the main card.
UFC 225 takes place Saturday at United Center in Chicago, and the main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
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Holly Holm (11-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC)
Height: 5’8″ Age: 36 Weight: 145 lbs. Reach: 69″
Last fight: Decision loss to Cris Cyborg (Dec. 20, 2017)
Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
Stance/striking style: Southpaw/kickboxing
Risk management: Excellent
+ Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion
+ Pro-boxing experience (33-2-3 record)
+ Multiple boxing and kickboxing accolades
+ 6 KO victories
+ 5 second-round finishes
+ Disciplined footwork and movement
^ Excellent distance management
+ Active and accurate cross
^ Coming forward or off of the counter
+ Diverse kicking arsenal
^ Sidekicks, oblique kicks, etc.
+ Deceptively strong inside the clinch
^ Works well off of over and underhooks
+ Consistent round-winning sensibilites
– Shown past struggles off of back
Megan Anderson (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Height: 6’0″ Age: 28 Weight: 145 lbs. Reach: 73″
Last fight: TKO win over Charmaine Tweet (Jan. 14, 2017)
Camp: Glory MMA and Fitness (Missouri)
Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
Risk management: Fair
+ Invicta FC featherweight title
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt
+ 4 KO victories
+ 2 submission wins
+ 3 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
^ High-output striker
+ Solid combination work
^ Punctuates well with kicks
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Shows improved wrestling
+ Serviceable transitional grappling
– Coming off of 18-month layoff
A former champion at bantamweight, Holm finds herself taking up another challenge at 145 pounds when she meets Anderson, a natural featherweight threat who has been calling for a shot on the big stage for some time.
Starting off on the feet, we have a battle between a marauding pressure-fighter versus strategic southpaw who likes to stick and move.
Anderson, the more aggressive of the two, will steadily stalk forward with inviting feints from a low-handed guard. A seemingly natural striker, Anderson can spring into offense, stringing together jabs, hooks and crosses with ease.
When feeling in stride, Anderson will punctuate her combos with heavy, sweeping kicks. The 28-year-old Australian is also forceful from boxing to clinching ranges – a place where she makes most of her money. However, given the striking dynamic at hand, I am not sure how much Holm will oblige her where she prefers.
More of a stick-and-move stylist, Holm demonstrates excellent footwork and distance management, traditionally playing just outside of range. Utilizing lateral movement until finding an opening to her liking, Holm will engage in strafing runs, throwing a variety of pre-programmed combinations like a finely tuned fighter jet.
A consistency of patterns that she carried over from boxing, Holm will usually circle to her left to reset, and move to her right when attempting to achieve attack angles and counters, something that I feel will serve her well in this fight. That said, Holm will be facing a much longer and larger threat than she is used to, making Anderson’s already potent punches even more powerful if she can counter catch the former champ in transit.
But regardless of how things initially play out on the feet, I suspect that the clinch could play an important factor in this fight.
Holm, who is deceptively strong in the clinch, works well off of over and underhooks, framing with her forearms as she looks to break away. In Holm’s last fight with Cyborg, she showed that she has more than just defensive framing and underhook awareness, engaging and controlling clinches on her terms throughout the contest. Should Holm tie-up with Anderson, she’ll need to be careful.
Typically striking to find her way into the clinch, Anderson appears to be a consummate worker, whether she is dirty boxing or working off of a plum/collar tie variations to get off her strikes. And since moving shop to the states to train in Missouri, we have seen measurable efforts from the Australian to improve her wrestling, both defensively and offensively.
Should Anderson decide to pull a double-leg out of her back pocket, then we may get a glimpse at the current level of Holm’s ground game. But with both fighters demonstrating serviceable scrambling ability, I doubt that grappling stanzas will last too long.
The oddsmakers and public are favoring the former UFC champ, listing Holm -225 and Anderson +185 as of this writing.
Given the fact Anderson is making her promotional debut off of an 18-month layoff, I can understand why confidence in her isn’t as high. However, Anderson is the bigger fighter by a decent stretch, presenting ranges that aren’t as familiar for Holm. If the Australian shows an improvement to her countering game or can controls exchanges against the fence early, then expect a long night for Holm. But until I see more relevant information on Anderson, I have to side with Holm’s stick-and-move style on paper to stay from Anderson’s power for a competitive decision win.