Four-time All-American wrestler and former bantamweight title challenger, Cat Zingano, takes a trip up to featherweight to face Australian striker, Megan Anderson. Prolonged ground or standing exchanges strongly favor each fighter, so whoever is able to successfully execute their game plan will emerge victorious.
Can Anderson Stop the Takedown?
As one of the few female fighters on the UFC roster that is a natural featherweight, Anderson is physically imposing and powerful. She has a bruising style, throwing caution to the wind defensively in order to land her own combinations. While her lack of defense has got her tagged in the past, I’m not sure it will be much of an issue here. If this remains standing, Anderson should dominate. One of Anderson’s main weaknesses throughout her career has been her takedown defense. This proved to be a factor in her last contest with Holly Holm – a fighter primarily known as a kickboxer.
Anderson was taken down repeatedly and controlled on the mat. The Australian did not offer much off her back and looked particularly terrible when she was mounted by Holm. Working with an excellent grappler in James Krause, I’m sure Anderson is making improvements – but will she have corrected her flaws in time for this match-up? I’m not convinced.
Can Zingano Stick to Her Game Plan?
Betting on Cat Zingano is usually a sweat. Despite her solid wrestling background and strength advantage over most competitors, Zingano has been known to make questionable decisions during fights – like when she leaped into the clinch against Ronda Rousey or when she was controlling Julianna Pena on the mat and got reversed by aggressively hunting submissions. In her last fight, Zingano was able to take down Marion Reneau repeatedly and control her on the mat. While Reneau isn’t much of a wrestler, she is a jiu-jitsu black belt that can threaten with submissions off her back. Zingano was never in trouble on the ground and cruised to a decision victory.
On the feet, Zingano has some serviceable kicks but isn’t the most fundamentally sound striker. I’m pretty sure she won’t want to trade with a hard puncher like Anderson. Conventional wisdom suggests that if a non-wrestler like Holm can ground Megan Anderson, Zingano will be able to do so as well. On the mat, Zingano should dominate positionally and perhaps even score a finish.
If I told you an All-American wrestler was fighting an Australian striker that has showed poor takedown defense, you’d say -150 is a good price. However, this is a women’s MMA fight and for whatever reason – I’ve always found female fights harder to predict (I know I’m not the only one)! Ultimately, both fighters have clear paths to victory – I just think Zingano’s is far more likely.
Pick: Cat Zingano -149
Check out my other betting predictions for UFC 232.