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This may not be the strongest slate of Ultimate Fighting Championship prelims, but you can always find some stuff to like. For UFC on ESPN 15 this Saturday in Las Vegas, that mostly involves the featured prelim between Mizuki Inoue and Amanda Lemos, which sees the former attempt to start her long-awaited climb on the strawweight ladder. Meanwhile, Austin Hubbard’s clash with Joe Solecki looks like another clear standout between two lightweight prospects, and Timur Valiev finally makes his UFC debut.
Now to the preview for the UFC on ESPN 15 “Munhoz vs. Edgar” prelims:
Women’s StrawweightsMizuki Inoue (14-5) vs. Amanda Lemos (7-1-1)
ODDS: Inoue (-145), Lemos (+125)
Having finally made her UFC debut a year ago, Inoue now gets to step into the Octagon as a strawweight, officially entering the division that some thought she would dominate years ago. Inoue made her professional debut at age 16 and hit the ground running. By age 19, she had found her way stateside in Invicta Fighting Championships and scored an impressive win over Bec Rawlings. Inoue looked like the future of the strawweight division in one form or another, but things went sideways for the next few years. Inoue still had success in her native Japan, but her jaunts to Invicta saw fellow prospects like Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Alexa Grasso get wins that eventually made Inoue feel like more of an afterthought. However, she kept working, and after some more solid wins, Inoue finally got the UFC call for a late-notice flyweight fight against Yanan Wu. Despite a huge size disadvantage, Inoue showed her prowess on the feet in a clear win and now finally gets the chance to build off that against Lemos. The Brazilian made her UFC debut in 2017 as a bantamweight, and things went about as poorly as possible. Leslie Smith overwhelmed her, and Lemos then failed a drug test and was subsequently kept out of action for two years. Upon her return, Lemos surprisingly dropped all the way to strawweight, which looks to have suited her well. Miranda Granger blitzed her and took the fight into the clinch, but Lemos quickly got the better of things and scored a quick submission. Lemos is still somewhat of a blank slate, though if she presses a wrestling game here, she may have some success neutralizing Inoue, even if the latter does have some solid skills on the mat. The safer bet is that Inoue manages to keep this standing and use her low-power volume striking to keep Lemos at bay on route to a clear decision win.
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