If you want a testament to how much deeper women’s strawweight is than women’s bantamweight, look no further than how quickly the relative divisions have grown. Assuming that everyone gets kept after this upcoming season of TUF (and considering they’re crowning the winner a champion, I can’t see how you’d cut a fighter you felt was worth contending) that division already has 23 fighters to bantamweight’s 26, a number that the UFC took months to reach after the division’s first fight. Kailin Curran is the newest face among those 23 and a fighter that some had tabbed as a probable entrant into the TUF 20 field. She’ll be facing off against Paige VanZant on the UFC Fight Night Halifax card on October 4th.
Who is Kailin Curran?
Training out of Reign MMA, alongside Jake Ellenberger and Mark Munoz, the 23 year old Curran will enter the UFC with an unbeaten 3-0 record, alongside a 4-1 (1 NC) amateur record. Her level of competition has been fairly negligiblethus far, with Japanese regional vet, Emi Tomimatsu, representing her high watermark. Coming out of the always productive Hawaiian MMA scene, Curran has her background as a wrestler, throughout high school, and has been kickboxing since 2006. All her wins are by decision to date, so she has yet to show a great finishing instinct, but the base and the camp are there for her to develop as a solid prospect.
What you should expect:
Curran is a decent, if basic kickboxer from range. She likes to work behind a probing jab and front kicks to set up combinations, but mostly works in ones and twos. Her footwork is solid, if not exceptional, she often gets her feet too close together after kicks, but she throws her kicks to all levels. She does overreach her feet with her hands a bit, which takes some of the steam off her punches, but her straight right is solid and comes in well behind her jab. Outside of her kickboxing, she’s a bit overly reliant on the head an arm throw to get takedowns, and her top game, while active is unrefined and a little too light. Right now her biggest problem is that she can get a little defensively/positionally lost when throwing more than two strikes, but she’s improved a lot over the last year, so I’d expect that to iron out with time.
What this means for her debut:
VanZant is definitely a tough matchup for Curran. While Curran has a wrestling background, her takedowns aren’t nearly as polished or as aggressive as VanZant’s, and I’m not sure she has the consistency of footwork or output to keep Vanzant on the outside. VanZant’s shown herself to be very good in top control, so Curran would really have to stay defensively sound for three rounds here. Torres was able to execute that gameplan against VanZant, but even then it was a close run thing and she couldn’t stay out of the clinch. Curran is a good young fighter with a bright future but the talent pool around her is deep.
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