Two top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight contenders take center stage inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., this Saturday (July 13, 2019) when former Featherweight champion, Germaine de Randamie (No. 1), squares off with Aspen Ladd (No. 4). UFC Fight Night 155 (a.k.a. UFC on ESPN+ 13) will also feature the return of Urijah Faber against the surging Ricky Simon (details), as well as a pivotal Featherweight clash between Josh Emmett and Mirsad Bektic.
UFC Fight Night 155 features seven “Prelims” this time around, all of which join the main card on ESPN+. Let’s start from the bottom:
135 lbs.: Liu Pingyuan vs. Jonathan Martinez
Liu Pingyuan (13-5) entered the Octagon unbeaten since 2013, ending six of those fights in the first round. Though he’s yet to score a finish in the Octagon, he enters the cage on the heels of decisions over Damian Stasiak and Martin Day.
Five of his nine stoppage wins have come by submission.
Jonathan Martinez (10-2) entered the Octagon with just one defeat, a 2015 disqualification loss to future The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) competitor Matt Schnell, but could not overcome Andre Soukhamthath in his short-notice Octagon debut. “The Dragon” went on to face China’s Wuliji Buren, surviving a few takedowns to take a dominant decision victory.
He opened his career with five consecutive knockouts and landed armbars in his last two pre-UFC bouts.
This fight favors Martinez so long as it stays on the feet. Thing is, it won’t — Martinez has been taken down six times in two UFC bouts, and though Buren wasn’t a sufficiently skilled submission artist to make the most of his top control, Liu most certainly is.
Martinez has an avenue of victory if he can stuff Liu’s takedowns and force the Chinese prospect to either try to duke it out or start pulling guard. After seeing his grappling struggles, though, it’s hard to have faith that he can do so. Liu survives some hairy striking exchanges to dominate from top position.
Prediction: Liu via unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Livinha Souza vs. Brianna Van Buren
Undaunted by the loss of her Invicta Strawweight title to Angela Hill, Livinha Souza (13-1) picked up two more dominant victories in the promotion before scoring an 81-second submission of Alex Chambers in her UFC debut. Though she had to dig deep, Souza also came out victorious against the overweight Sarah Frota, who used her size and strength to wear down Souza, but ultimately wound up on the wrong end of a split decision.
Eight of her 10 stoppage victories have come by submission.
Brianna Van Buren (8-2) opened her career 3-2, but has not tasted defeat since ending a three-year hiatus in 2018. Her breakthrough came this past May in Invicta’s Phoenix Rising tournament, defeating Manjit Kolekar, Juliana Lima and Kailin Curran in a single night.
The 5’0” Van Buren replaces Cynthia Calvillo on short notice.
Van Buren is an excellent addition to the roster who could make some real noise in very little time. She’s also up against it in her debut; though likely the physically stronger of the two, Van Buren can’t match Souza’s technical wrestling, and her southpaw stance leaves her open to Souza’s straight right and body kick. To make matters worse, Van Buren is on the wrong end of a five-inch height disadvantage, making it difficult for her to get her boxing going.
Souza just seems like a little too much, a little too soon for “Tha Bull.” Souza catches her coming in with a reactive takedown, moves to the back, and ends things in the first.
Prediction: Souza via first-round submission
135 lbs.: Benito Lopez vs. Vince Morales
Benito Lopez (9-1) put on one of the best “Contender Series” bouts in his split decision victory over Steven Peterson, then followed that up with another fun decision over Albert Morales in UFC proper. Injury kept him out of action for all of 2018, after which he tapped to a Manny Bermudez guillotine this past February.
He stands three inches taller than Vince Morales (9-3) at 5’10” and will have a 5.5-inch reach advantage.
“Vandetta” looked poised to claim victory on “Contender Series,” where he floored the favored Domingo Pilarte, but succumbed to a comeback submission in the second round. After a victory in Bellator, he unsuccessfully debuted in the Octagon against Song Yadong before upsetting Aiemann Zahabi in May.
He replaces the injured Martin Day on two weeks’ notice.
Now this could be fun! Lopez always guns for the first-round knockout and Morales packs impressive heat in his hands for a Bantamweight. It’s a clash of explosiveness and creativity versus fundamentals and resilience.
Said resilience looks like the key to this fight. Lopez has a habit of slowing terribly after a strong start to the point that even Peterson, whose striking strategy is “lower head, fling hands, and hope for the best,” made it competitive on the feet. “Golden Boy” is unlikely to score a quick finish and lacks the technical polish to deal with Morales once he’s no longer able to counter any given strike with a flying knee. “Vandetta” keeps it competitive in the first before pulling away on the strength of his boxing craft, ultimately putting Lopez away late.
Prediction: Morales via third-round technical knockout
Four more UFC Fight Night 155 undercard bouts to preview and predict, among them the return of Ryan Hall and a clash of Light Heavyweight knockout artists in the featured bout. Same time as always, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 155 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will stream on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
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