Since this season of The Ultimate Fighter is going to determine who the first ever UFC women’s strawweight champion will be, I thought it best to take notes about each of the fighters who compete as the season unfolds. I’m not going to make predictions on who will win – just take notes on each of the fighters so that I have a better idea of how good they will be in the UFC.
-Let me state first that I firmly believe whoever wins and becomes the strawweight champion is going to eventually lose to Claudia Gadelha… assuming that Gadelha can consistently make weight. Gadelha was not a part of this cast because of concerns about making weight repeatedly throughout a six-week time period. I see Gadelha as being very good in all areas of the fight game and a tremendous athlete on top of it.
Fight Result: Randa Markos def. Tecia Torres by decision (unanimous), 3 rounds
-What won Markos this fight was a refusal to concede position despite being put in trouble on a few submission attempts. Markos stayed heavy on top and advanced into dominant position a couple times, scoring points with just enough meaningful punches and elbows to win by decision. After being clearly out-struck in the first two rounds, Markos was suddenly quite competitive standing with Torres in the third round. I believe that’s because Markos established the threat of the takedown, making Torres much more hesitant to throw kicks – a demonstration of why having a wrestling base is such an advantage.
-Markos has good takedowns and did a good job of maintaining top control, but her submission game needs a lot of work. Markos had to fight off a number of submission attempts, including an armbar, a kneebar, a heel hook, and even an inverted triangle choke. Having a wrestling base is great, but it’s only truly an advantage if the wrestler knows enough of the ground game to stay out of submissions and score points with strikes on the ground. Consider that Sara McMann nearly lost to Lauren Murphy because as good as her wrestling is, her ground game is very basic and rudimentary.
-Markos also didn’t show a highly developed striking game – it looked like she was wading in with punches. She looked very much like a wrestler who is learning mixed martial arts… and with a 4-1 professional record, that’s to be expected at this point.
-Torres had much crisper striking, landing cleaner punches and kicks throughout the fight. What Torres needs to learn how to do is control distance so that she can keep wrestlers on the outside. Torres was visibly smaller than Markos, so her best bet to avoid takedowns is to throw front kicks and side kicks to maintain that distance. Obviously I don’t expect Torres to be using Anderson Silva tactics at this point in her career, but I just don’t see her developing into an effective counter-wrestler.
Overall, I thought Markos did a great job of grinding out a decision victory against the #3 seed Torres, but there are too many holes in her game to feel confident that she can become the “shock” strawweight champion at the end of the tournament. At the same time, I felt the same way about Colton Smith on TUF 16, so I’m not going to count Markos out.