To set the record straight, I’m aware that there are going to be four contests on the FS1 prelims this Friday. However, the UFC declined to reveal the fourth contest in that time slot before tonight, meaning I’d have to release this preview Thursday. Given there are other previews that need to be released, the decision was made to go with what we got. After all, this is the minor event of the weekend with UFC 213 following up just a day later.
For my choice of a contest to keep an eye on in this portion of the card, Angela Hill and Ashley Yoder tend to put on entertaining scraps. However, I don’t want to sell Aspen Ladd – an Invicta FC fan favorite – making her UFC debut short either. Sounds like the women will be dominating the first half of the TUF 25 Finale.
The FS1 prelims start at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT on Friday.
Angela Hill (6-3) vs. Ashley Yoder (5-2), Women’s Strawweight
Don’t let her 1-3 record in the UFC fool you. Hill has faced a murderer’s row in the UFC, her lone contest not well above her experience level being her debut against Emily Kagan. Nobody will refer to Tecia Torres, Rose Namajunas, or Jessica Andrade as an easy night’s work in the cage. Even crazier to think is that the UFC fed Hill to these women despite her inexperience as Hill turned professional just over three years ago. Damn.
Hill has come along beautifully, already capturing the Invicta strawweight belt. She isn’t a powerhouse, but her strikes are technical, accurate, and voluminous as she can pile them on in a hurry. For the most part, Hill prefers to stay on the outside and attack with a jab and kicks. While those traits have always been strong parts of Hill’s game, it has been the recent development of takedown defense and cage awareness that has expedited her develop. Her grappling still has a way to go, but improvement has been a steady constant.
Yoder has some similarities to Hill in that she too prefers to stick and move from the outside. Not as fluid or powerful as Hill in the striking department, Yoder’s advantage will come on the ground. An excellent scrambler with a knack for finding the submission, Yoder lacks the physicality and/or technique to get the fight to the ground at will. However, like Hill, Yoder is still a developing fighter who is inexperienced enough to make massive leaps of improvement.
In many ways, this is a striker vs. grappler contest. Hill has been lauded for her toughness and exciting style, but those same type of compliments could be paid to Yoder. What separates Hill is her kickboxing experience and athleticism, two things Yoder is in short supply of. Yoder’s tenacity will make it interesting, but Hill is going home with a W as judges tend to favor striking over grappling. Hill via decision
Ed Herman (23-12, 1 NC) vs. CB Dollaway (15-8), Light Heavyweight
I’m amazed this fight never happened when these two were patrolling the middleweight division. Let me check one more time…damn, it hasn’t ever happened. Weird.
Herman has been in the UFC for a decade, never pulling himself out of the middle of the pack at 185. Nonetheless, he has produced a long career around being a durable vet with a surprisingly slick submission game. However, there are reasons to believe the end could be nigh. Never very fast, Herman has become glacially slow as he advances into his late 30’s. Though he has always been able to compensate for that with savvy and toughness, his chin has now begun to fade, with him suffering two KO losses in his last three contests. Previous to those losses, his only KO loss in his first 33 contests was due to a torn ACL in the midst of the fight.
Dollaway is a greater mystery. His last appearance in the cage came almost 19 months ago, suffering a KO loss to Nate Marquardt. A collegiate wrestler, Dollaway has become a respectable power puncher who has picked up a few tricks over the years. He does tend to head hunt, depleting his energy levels and leaving him open to counters. He still has his strong wrestling to rely on if he is unable to find success on the feet. Dollaway has also proven to be extremely tough to get to the ground. Though he was once prone to mental errors on the ground, Dollaway has made strides to avoid being submitted, his last loss in that fashion coming eight years ago.
Perhaps not having to cut so much weight and avoiding dehydration will help these roster mainstays avoid being KO’d in the manner they have been in recent contests. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be opposed to either hanging up their gloves. Given that Dollaway possesses greater physical gifts – in addition to having less mileage on his tires – I’m going with the former Sun Devil to extend his UFC career. Dollaway via decision
Jessica Eye (11-6, 1 NC) vs. Aspen Ladd (5-0), Women’s Bantamweight
It’s a mystery how Eye maintains employment in the UFC. In seven appearances, she has picked up a single victory, losing her last four contests. Not an encouraging record. In fact, it’s flat out horrible. And yet, she is still here. She does possess an entertaining style, preferring to stand in the pocket and sling fists. Often starting strong, Eye tends to lose confidence once she takes a big shot or starts falling behind in the volume department. If Eye focused a bit more on avoiding damage, that wouldn’t be as big of a problem. Instead, she’s all offense all the time and doesn’t have the power to end contests early with regularity.
Ladd will be happy to engage her in the pocket. A meat-and-potatoes boxer who relies heavily on one-two combinations, Aspen marches down her opponent. In other words, expect this to be an all-out brawl. Ladd keeps her chin down and her hands up consistently to help mitigate the damage that assuredly will come at her. Where Ladd is at her best is on the ground, throwing heavy ground shots while looking for submission opportunities to appear as she throws her fists, the armbar being her favorite.
I’ve lost all confidence in Eye. The UFC has put her in far more high-profile contests than she deserves to be in and continually comes up short. If she can find an early rhythm and maintain her confidence, this fight is hers for the taking. Eye has been so fragile mentally, I can’t see that happening. Ladd bullies her around the cage and makes a successful UFC debut. Ladd via decision
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