The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has two women’s divisions (strawweight and bantamweight) that are hot and growing, one recently launched (featherweight) with rumors of two more (atomweight and flyweight) being added to the promotion’s roster in the not so distant future. Here, I will highlight the six scheduled women’s bouts that await us in the upcoming month… Fight: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Pearl Rodriguez Card: UFC 210 Where: Buffalo, NY When: April 8, 2017 Thoughts: Gonzalez will be making her UFC debut on short notice when she takes on undefeated Team Alpha Male product Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 210 in Buffalo next Saturday night, April 8th. This bout is a very quick turnaround for Calvillo, who is coming off a first-round rear-naked choke submission win over Amanda Cooper at UFC 209 earlier this month. For Gonzalez, she is coming off an extended layoff, so ring rust, combined with Octagon jitters could be a concern, especially considering the fact that she is making her Octagon debut on Pay-Per-View. Castillo made her UFC debut on PPV as well when she faced Cooper. Her bout was promoted to the main card when Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson fell off, so this will make back-to-back PPV fights for Castillo, and Gonzalez will get the chance to capitalize on the massive opportunity. Gonzalez lost a decision in her professional mixed martial arts debut but has gone on to building a six-fight winning streak that includes a third-round armbar submission of current UFC strawweight Cortney Casey to earn her UFC contract. I am a fan of both of these ladies, so I am very much looking forward to this women’s strawweight matchup. Fight: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Irene Aldana Card: UFC 210 Where: Buffalo, NY When: April 8, 2017 Thoughts: I am a fan of both of these women’s 135-pounders too, so while I am not exactly thrilled to be seeing them square off against each other, I do believe they are likely to produce fireworks when they go toe-to-toe in Buffalo. Chookagian last saw action at UFC 205 back in November, losing a split decision to Liz Carmouche to mark the first official loss of her pro MMA career. Meanwhile, Aldana made her promotional debut at UFC on FOX 23 back in December, when she dropped a unanimous decision to Leslie Smith. With both coming off losses, I expect each of them to leave it all inside the Octagon in an effort to get their hands raised and retain relevancy in the division. Fight: Rose Namajunas vs. Michelle Waterson Card: UFC on FOX 24 Where: Kansas City, MO When: April 15, 2017 Thoughts: Arguably the two most entertaining women’s strawweights besides the champion will be going to war in this co-main event. Like any sane fight fan, I am very much looking forward to this matchup and expect it to be fireworks from start to finish, whether it lasts a minute or goes the distance. Stylistically, I think these two are capable of producing a real classic, so make sure to not take any breaks during this one. It is also worth noting that this is a rare ‘winner versus loser’ matchup in the UFC’s women’s strawweight division, with Namajunas coming off a split-decision setback against Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Waterson scoring a first-round rear-naked choke submission win over Paige VanZant. Fight: Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Ketlen Vieira Card: UFC on FOX 24 Where: Kansas City, MO When: April 15, 2017 Thoughts: Evans-Smith is coming off a third-round TKO win over Veronica Macedo and currently enjoys a two fight winning streak inside the Octagon, which she will eagerly be looking to extend to three when she takes on another Brazilian in Vieira. The 25-year-old last saw action at UFC Fight Night 96, where she made her promotional debut against Kelly Faszholz and defeated her via split decision on the judges’ scorecards to keep her undefeated record intact, which will be her exact goal when she steps into the Octagon against Evans-Smith in Kansas City on April 15th. These two will kick off the Fight Pass prelims for the card and are expected to get things rolling on a high note. Fight: Jessica Penne vs. Danielle Taylor Card: UFC Fight Night 108 Where: Nashville, TN When: April 22, 2017 Thoughts: Penne has not seen action since a second-round TKO loss to current women’s strawweight title challenger Jessica Andrade at UFC 199 nearly a year ago. Following the extended layoff, she seeks for a return to the win column against Taylor, who is 1-1 inside the Octagon and coming off a split decision win over Seo Her Ham, making this a rarer ‘winner versus loser’ matchup in the division. This fight has the potential of being highly entertaining or very lackluster. Penne is generally a finisher, and considering Taylor’s first two bouts went to split decision, she may be gunning for the finish this time out. Fight: Alexis Davis vs. Cindy Dandois Card: UFC Fight Night 108 Where: Nashville, TN When: April 22, 2017 Thoughts: The Belgian rides an impressive three-fight winning streak heading into her promotional debut, with all three victories coming by way of submission, though she submitted her opponent with strikes in her most recent outing. Welcoming her to the UFC will be the veteran Alexis Davis, who is coming off a second-round arm-triangle choke submission loss to Sara McMann. This Fight Pass preliminary card matchup is expected to be a barn burner in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division. I think Dandois is solid addition to the division and see Davis as being a good test for her debut bout. I expect this to be a tough fight for both ladies, and I am interested in seeing who will be able to pull away with the victory.
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