Germaine de Randamie returns to the Octagon for just the third time in over two years to take on rising contender Aspen Ladd in the main event of UFC Fight Night 155. De Randamie was the inaugural women’s featherweight champion but was stripped of the title for her unwillingness to fight Cris Cyborg. Now, she is back at 135 and she is looking to make another run at the title.
De Randamie is a former European kickboxing champion. She amassed a perfect 37-0 record before transitioning to MMA in 2008. Her kickboxing experience is evident in her MMA striking and has helped her to become one of the best standup fighters in the division. Her long and lanky frame allows her to keep the fight on the outside where she will pick her opponents apart with jabs and quick right hands before resetting at a safe distance. Her lead attacks are very calculated and she rarely overextends on strikes or rushes forward with wild combos. Instead, she will feint and jab her way into the pocket to set up her right hand and then go back to fighting at range. Oddly, she doesn't throw a lot of kicks. Given her length, with her long legs she should be actively kicking, especially with the major size advantage that she has at bantamweight.
De Randamie will occasionally come forward with multi-strike combos, but even then she will play it safe, never getting too aggressive and always staying responsible defensively. Although this is an intelligent way to fight, she has lost fights in the past due to this (over)cautious approach, and, since few in the division can match her striking prowess, I would like to see her be more aggressive. But Ladd is an aggressive grappler for her part, so de Randamie probably won't get too overzealous in fear of a takedown.
A lot of de Randamie’s striking revolves around her long jab, which she uses to enter the pocket and set up her right hand. Notice how she almost always takes a slight angle to her left while throwing the jab. This creates a dominant angle for her right hand. She can also use it as a counter against aggressive opponents. Ladd is one of the most aggressive fighters in the division, so watch for this quick jab up the middle from de Randamie to stop Ladd from initiating the clinch.
As a patient outside striker, de Randamie often relies on her counters to get things done inside the Octagon. Most of her counters are simple back skipping counter right hooks or straights, and her patience and her frustrating jab can force opponents to come forward sloppily. Against Holly Holm, de Randamie routinely took a long step backward, dipped her head to the left, and countered with an overhand right. Again, Ladd is always moving forward, and if she comes in too aggressively looking for the takedown, she will be eating counter rights from de Randamie all night.
De Randamie also has good clinch striking, although she doesn't use it enough. Going back to her length advantage, the clinch is the perfect position for her to take advantage of her size. Her knees can land quicker than most, since they have a shorter path to the target, and her long arms make it easier to keep underhooks or the double collar tie. I don’t expect to see much of her clinch game in this fight, though, since she should be worried about the fight hitting the ground, but if they do end up in the clinch then watch for de Randamie’s knees to the body and elbows on the breaks.
This fight is a classic striker vs grappler matchup, which means that if de Randamie can keep the fight standing then she should run away with it, but if it hits the ground then she’s in trouble. Her takedown defense is below average and we have seen her lose fights on the ground in the past to the likes of Amanda Nunes. Ladd wastes no time posturing up and striking once the fight hits the ground, so all it could take is one takedown to end the fight. But de Randamie is a very intelligent striker and I don’t believe she will put herself in bad positions and allow Ladd to get a clean look at her hips.