Paige VanZant projects to avoid making her -1450 odds look unjustified this September 5, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Match Up
Women’s Strawweight Paige VanZant 5-1 vs. Alex Chambers 5-2
Women’s Strawweight Paige VanZant -1450 vs. Alex Chambers +950
3 Things You Should Know
1. VanZant is kind of the real deal, with one of the sharpest philosophical approaches in the game today.
VanZant is the kind of fighter that gets called “poster boy/girl” every day of the week, and twice on Sunday; photogenic fighters with skill you wouldn’t mind telling grandma about. There’s always a level of condescension to it, as if these fighters are protected from being exposed. No matter how much truth to any such claim, it’s still important to focus on the fighter in question.
VanZant is not the sum of her Instagram videos, even if Dana White sounds like he’d be OK with that. She hasn’t faced anyone elite, but she’s faced good competition. That is more than enough for any 21 year old two fights into their UFC career. Granted, this bout is a modest step back, but in principle, it’s a fine bout.
2. For an expert in mechatronics and robot engineering, Alex Chambers is a hell of a fighter.
Alex Chambers didn’t get a chance to make an impression on TUF. While she remained Mean Girl free in the house, Rose Namajunas would end up submitting her on the show, and she’d again lose via submission against fellow TUF’er Aisling Daly. She managed to get one more crack in the UFC against Kailin Curran, losing both rounds before nabbing an armbar with less than two minutes left in the fight.
3. This fight won’t end like the Curran fight even if Chambers pulls off the miracle of actually winning.
On paper, this bout makes sense. Especially for Dana and his matchmakers. “Hey, VanZant needs a step up in competition. The women who beat Curran, who Paige struggled with, but only because the MMA gods decided to reward an Australian astrophysicist for being an Australian astrophysicist, sounds pretty good.”
Except Curran is a better fighter than Chambers. Both bouts involving Curran are decent plot points reflecting two entirely different trajectories. VanZant struggled to win competitively during her growth spurt. Chambers struggled to avoid defeat during her twilight. Chambers will get smashed.
I can’t end this article there, so let’s talk fight shop. How much will the world of horror miss Wes Craven*? How underrated is New Nightmare for being so ahead of its-oops. Wrong website.
OK seriously, VanZant is a great example of how to be a technician through philosophy. It’s not just that she pressures. It’s how she pressures. Paige calculates with punches, takedowns, and knees. But she does so with a specific endgame in mind, never intimidating by the thought that her opponent won’t crack under pressure. And her striking continues to evolve the way solid prospects tend to do.
Paige still has to work on her head movement, but she no longer does the Bobo doll defense routine.
She excels at being able to integrate striking and grappling, reminding me of a fully functional, batteries included Diego Sanchez.
Chambers isn’t a bad fighter. I don’t want to equivocate and say VanZant struggled just as much against Curran as Chambers did, but I’d argue that it’s true that in both cases, Curran let the mistakes accrue. Alex can handle herself on the ground, and has a decent arsenal on the feet. Her submission win over Curran involved a major technical gaffe on Curran’s part, but it only happened because Chambers was so mobile and diligent switching positions.
The problem here, as it will be with a lot of opponents for Paige, is that Chambers won’t be able to handle VanZant’s sheer presence. Chambers doesn’t have great cardio to begin with. There’s no reason to think Alex won’t get punched, clinched, and grounded into defeat.
VanZant by TKO, round 2
*On the same day we lost the truly awesome and great Oliver Sacks no less. What a bummer.
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