UFC 166 Prediction: Jessica Eye vs. Sarah Kaufman
October 17, 2013
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Thanks to a 10-1 record including wins over Zoila Frausto Gurgel and Carina Damm, Jessica Eye has received an invitation to compete in the UFC. Her first UFC opponent will be Sarah Kaufman who is only the former Strikeforce champion at 135 pounds. No pressure. Good luck!
Eye is a fighter who likes to stand and strike. The good news is that Kaufman will probably be happy to engage in a striking match and thus allow Eye to fight the way she usually does. The bad news is that Kaufman is almost certainly a better striker than Eye is.
Having watched Eye on tape it became clear to me that while she has good technical boxing in terms of throwing punches, she doesn’t have a very good sense of distancing. Against Carina Damm, Eye stood in the pocket and threw a lot of punches in Damm’s general direction. A very low percentage of them landed. Eye was eventually awarded a decision victory because who knows, maybe some of those punches that looked like they missed actually hit.
That won’t be good enough against Kaufman. Kaufman is a very aggressive striker who has landed a whopping 681 significant strikes in 107 minutes of fighting. Kaufman hasn’t shown any knockout power to speak of but she lands early and often. She also absorbs quite a few strikes but fights at such a high pace that she’s easily able to win on points most of the time. Kaufman is like a Nick Diaz or Court McGee type of striker – she gets hit a lot, but she more than makes up for it with her offense.
What Eye should strongly consider doing is trying to take Kaufman to the ground. As strong as Kaufman is standing, she has accomplished very little on the ground throughout her MMA career. Eye has some legitimate submission skills, as evidenced by her standing arm-triangle choke victory over Gurgel, and if she can put Kaufman on her back then she’ll give herself a greatly improved chance of winning.
The thing about strikers, though, is they like to strike. Even wrestlers like Gray Maynard find out they like to strike and then abandon their takedown game, even though it was what made them successful in the first place (what, a random rant about Gray Maynard in a discussion of Jessica Eye and Sarah Kaufman?) The point is that I doubt Eye will employ a smart game plan and try to force Kaufman to grapple – and even if Eye does execute that game plan, it’s unclear if she would be able to take Kaufman down with any consistency.
The one thing I can be confident about is that Kaufman will get the better of the standing exchanges. She is a much more effective offensive striker than Eye and that should be enough to carry her to victory.
Pick: Sarah Kaufman by decision