UFC on Fox 21 Breakdown: Paige VanZant vs Bec Rawlings

Paige VanZantPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look ahead to a women’s strawweight contest at UFC on Fox 21 as Bec Rawlings welcomes back Paige VanZant from Dancing with the Stars in Vancouver, Canada.   Bec Rawlings (Record: 7-4, +185 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C-) The 27-year old Australian looks to extend her winning streak in the UFC to three in a row. She’s beaten Lisa Ellis and Seohee Ham in her last two outings. This will be her biggest test to date in the UFC. Now training out of San Diego, Rawlings has done the majority of her recent fight camps stateside. Rawlings has steadily developed her stand up. Her boxing technique is pretty fluid and she has above average power for the strawweight division. Her combination striking has improved as well, but she does her best work in close range in the clinch. Her wrestling game is still rather limited securing less than half a takedown per 15 minutes in the octagon. She does have pretty decent takedown defense defending 80% of takedowns attempted on her in her time in the UFC. Rawlings conditioning has been a bit of an issue. She works at a high work rate early in fights and it’s difficult for her to keep that pace up over the course of a full 15 minutes.   Paige VanZant (Record: 6-2, -225 Favorite, Fighter Grade: C+) The Oregon born and raised fighter is returning to the octagon for the first time since a one sided defeat to Rose Namajunas in December 2015. She’s kept herself busy competing on a season of Dancing with the Stars earlier in 2016. VanZant looks to get back in the winning column on Saturday night. Just 22 years of age, VanZant is a fighter looked at as a potential star in the strawweight division. Her stand up skills certainly need to improve. She’s aggressive on the feet and will continue to push forward. She’s hittable in prolonged standing exchanges, but her fights tend not to develop that way. VanZant likes to push opponents against the cage using her high work rate to wear out opponents. She tends to look for a head and arm throw to get her opponents to the ground where she can use her high energy ground and pound. From a technical stand point it’s not beautiful, but her excellent work rate affords her the opportunity to tire out opponents and to really take control of fights the further they progress.   Match-up Saturday’s women’s strawweight showcase is a battle between fighters with similar offensive styles. Both fighters like to press forward and do their best work in the clinch. Rawlings holds a 2 inch length advantage and will look to use that in this fight. The key for Rawlings in this fight will be her takedown defense. On the feet, she does have a modest advantage overall. However, her pace over three rounds is nowhere near that of VanZant. I think that’s the difference in this bout. Rawlings could do well early in this fight, but it’s difficult seeing her keep up with VanZant as the fight progresses. Look for VanZant to out work her Australian opponent and score takedowns throughout the fight winning a unanimous decision on the scorecards.

Written by Jay Primetown

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