UFC 181 Newcomer Breakdown: Ashlee Evans-Smith

ashlee-smithPrior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at women’s bantamweight Ashlee Evans-Smith as she takes on former TUF18 competitor Raquel Pennington at UFC 181. Ashlee Evans Smith Hometown: Lake Forest, California Age: 27 Height: 5’8” Weightclass: Women’s Bantamweight Camp: Reign Training Center Career Record: 3-0 Key Wins: Fallon Fox Key Losses: None Background The California-based bantamweight only began fighting professionally in 2013. In her short career, she’s only had three professional fights. With that said, she arguably has one of the most famous victories in the history of women’s MMA when she beat transgender fighter Fallon Fox. Strengths

  • Good size for the weight class
  • Particularly strong in the clinch
  • Wrestling background
  • Pretty relentless on the feet; will push the fight into grappling situations
  • When able to get fight to the ground, heavy ground and pound
  • Good cardio


  • Offensive striking is predictable
  • Striking defense a question mark
  • Chin is a concern especially as she starts to face more accurate strikers
  • Unproven fighting off her back

0EvansGrade   Matchup with Raquel Pennington On paper, this is a very competitive matchup. Neither fighter has much experience. Pennington has 8 professional fights, while Evans-Smith only has three fights. On the feet, Pennington has an advantage. She’s the better technical striker and has better foot movement. Evans-Smith has been clipped before in fights and getting hurt by Pennington is certainly a possibility. In the grappling exchanges, Evans-Smith is the better wrestler and is pretty punishing in top control. In Pennington’s last bout, she was taken down the smaller Jessica Andrade a few times en route to a split decision loss. With that said, Pennington has an underrated guard and can threaten with submissions. She also does well to scramble and get back to her feet. Pennington has fought multiple times in Invicta and the UFC, while this is Evans-Smith’s first time in a major promotion. Expect the majority of this fight to be on the feet with Evans-Smith looking to make a battle against the cage while Pennington looks to open her striking. Evans-Smith should be able to score a couple takedowns in this bout, but Pennington’s ability to land the bigger strikes and threaten with submissions gives her the nod in a close fight. UFC Ceiling At 27 years old and limited fight experience, Evans-Smith is still very much green in the fight game. Her stand up attack leads a lot to be desired, but her grappling is well above average and she could be a tough out for many fighters in the women’s bantamweight division. Her ability to push late in fights with her grappling heavy style should suit her well in the UFC. In a weight class with several other good grapplers of varying backgrounds, she will need to improve her striking to develop into a top 10 fighter. Fight Film Check out Ashlee Evans-Smith in some of her recent fights: Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Fallon Fox

Ashlee Evans-Smith Highlight Clip from her bouts in CFA

Written by Jay Primetown

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