Angela Hill (L) (Jeff Vulgamore/Combat Press)

Women’s MMA Weekend Preview: The Ladies of UFC Fight Night 186

With the late addition of a strawweight scrap between Angela Hill and Ashley Yoder, UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Gane gives us three female bouts this week.

Hill and Yoder join the previously announced bouts featuring Montana De La Rosa against Mayra Bueno Silva and Alexis Davis against Sabina Mazo.

Let’s take a look at what could be three really good fights.


Montana De La Rosa vs. Mayra Bueno Silva

I’m most excited for this affair. I expect this fight to be contested mostly on the ground as a grappling match and battle for position, so the preview will be brief.

De La Rosa reminds me so much of myself, so of course I gotta like that, right? She comes into this fight at 11-6 after a September loss to Viviane Araujo. Her striking has improved from fight to fight, and she will have a moderate reach advantage here.

There is a possibility De La Rosa will be interested in seeing how she can perform on the feet, which could work for her. For starters, she should pop that jab, but mix it up. This can mean throwing one or two jabs, or using it to set up other punches — maybe a jab, cross, jab. She also could possibly throw front and push kicks. Those can be a weapon, and she won’t have to worry too much about Silva catching them and taking her down, because she herself will be confident if it goes to the canvas. I want to see her being very technical in her striking, though. She can’t get wild or brawl.

De La Rosa can also have success in the clinch, especially with knees. She might want to push Silva to the cage and throw knees and some elbows. If she can have success on the feet and keep it there, then she might really frustrate or annoy Silva and make Silva’s attempts to get in close more wild. This would leave Silva more open.

Now, with all of that being said, this fight will hit the ground. If De La Rosa ends up on her back, then the best bet is to be in the center of the cage and away from the fence. She doesn’t want to be stacked against it. She wants room to move where she can extend her legs and maybe throw up triangle attempts. If she is in trouble, then she can also try to shrimp and push Silva off. If De La Rosa is on top, then the opposite applies: she should push Silva to the cage, use her length to keep a little distance, and throw down strikes.

Silva enters the bout at 7-1 after an armbar win over Mara Borella in September. Her game is even easier to dissect. On the feet, Silva’s probably not going to be looking to engage as much. It’s just not to her benefit. She needs to throw more lunging strikes as she tries to get inside, but this will leave her open. This might be the price she has to pay, though, just to get the takedown. However, she will want to keep the amount of blows she absorbs to a minimum. A good tactic for her will be to feint high, get De La Rosa’s guard up, and then shoot in low for the takedowns. She will be fine getting the takedown from a clinch against the cage as well.

Silva has great armbars. If she is on top when the fight hits the mat, then she’ll do things to distract De La Rosa before attacking the arm. Silva might throw some strikes or mix in lots of movement with her legs to get De La Rosa worried about keeping a leg trapped. There will be options. Meanwhile, if she is on the bottom, she’ll try to get De La Rosa to put her hands or arms on the mat and then attack that arm. She can do this by bucking and forcing De La Rosa to put her hands down in an attempt to keep her balance. Shrimping could produce the same result. Silva will have more options on the ground, and she knows this. She will want to bring the fight down quickly. She just can’t get desperate or frustrated if it takes more time to get the fight into her world.

Alexis Davis vs. Sabina Mazo

As much as De La Rosa and Silva will want to do the same thing, Davis and Mazo will not. Both women have an area where they can excel in this fight.

Davis, who comes in at 19-10, is on a three-fight skid. Her most recent loss was a decision to Viviane Araujo in July 2019. Meanwhile, Mazo comes in 9-1 on a three-fight winning streak after adding a September victory over Justine Kish.

The best path to a win for Davis is to get this fight to the ground. She is going to be at a disadvantage on the feet, despite having an underrated stand-up game. Her movement is good, and while her striking can at times look awkward, it is effective for her. Some people just look awkward throwing strikes, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t good at it. The best part of Davis’s striking is her counters. That is what she might need to rely on here if she has trouble getting it to the ground. She will have nowhere near the hand speed of Mazo, so her best bet in striking exchanges will be to let Mazo go first and then counter it. In doing so, she will want to avoid circling into Mazo’s power and especially her right high kick.

Davis has excellent entries on her takedowns. She is good at timing an opponent’s punch or kick and shooting in under it. That could work well for her here. We may even see her try to lure Mazo into throwing kicks. She can then shoot in when Mazo goes high and won’t have the balance to stop it. Her other option is to coax Mazo to come forward recklessly. Mazo can get overly aggressive, and that would also be a time when Davis could shoot.

Davis will have a big advantage on the ground. Mazo is coming off a submission win, but let’s be real about that: Mazo got it because she rocked Kish with a kick and then took Kish’s back as she went down.

The ground belongs to Davis. Once she gets it there, she doesn’t want to lose it. She has to establish position. From there, she should be able to hold Mazo down and go to work. If Mazo has guard or half guard, then Davis is going to be able to land punches. She can go to the body or the head. If she has one free leg, then she should be able to work on the other leg and maybe get side control or get Mazo to turn and then take her back. The quicker Davis can get a takedown, the easier it’s going to be for her later. This is because Mazo will then be a bit more defensive.

Mazo, on the other hand, will want to keep it away from the ground. On the feet, she will be aggressive. This is her nature. She will want to use her reach advantage to keep Davis at bay and make her have farther to go if she wants to shoot in. Mazo is great at getting opponents to circle into her power, but Davis is a veteran and might not fall for that. Mazo will have a speed advantage, too. She will have the ability to come in, land a flurry, and get out before Davis has a chance to counter or shoot in. Mazo’s high kicks are a thing of beauty, but this is such common knowledge that fighters are prepared for it. She will want to disguise those kicks by throwing them at the end of multiple-punch combinations when Davis is more likely to lower her guard.

Mazo should use the feet to get out to an advantage. It will be huge for her if she can win the first and second frames. If Mazo is out to a lead, she merely has to survive.

If Mazo is able to keep Davis away and shooting from a distance, then she can have that high kick ready and attempt to land it as Davis shoots. If she connects, then Mazo could put Davis out. If this doesn’t happen and Davis does secure the takedown, then Mazo’s goal is simple: don’t stay there. If she can’t escape, then she must be defensive. She shouldn’t try to grapple with Davis, because she is not going to win in that area. She should just keep safe.

Mazo shouldn’t throw up submissions. She should work on the escape — shrimp, scoot to the cage, and kick Davis off. If this doesn’t work, then just try to hold Davis close and stall her offense until the referee stands it up. If Davis isn’t very offensive on the ground, then Mazo can go ahead and bring some elbows to her head and land off her back. This might make Davis adjust herself and create an opening for Mazo to get up.

Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder

This is a rematch of a 2017 bout. Hill won a decision in that one. This contest was just put together about a week ago, and you would assume that by accepting it, both ladies are in fight shape. They both are very aware of what their opponent will want to do, so it’s not as if they would need to study much tape.

Hill comes in with a record of 12-9 after losing in her last two appearances. Those setbacks were both very close split decisions, which came against Claudia Gadelha and Michelle Waterson. Yoder stands at 8-6 after a decision win over Miranda Granger in November. The victory was possibly Yoder’s best performance to date.

Hill is a great striker who mixes up her strikes as well as anyone and will be very happy if a fight stays on its feet for the full 15 minutes. In this fight, she will give up five inches in reach, which can be very problematic. However, Yoder lets opponents come forward and get inside. Hill will use her jab a bit more frequently, because she will want to close the distance. It sounds very basic to say, but Hill really just has to be her typical self in order to win.

Hill will want to be careful throwing her kicks. Yoder, in looking for a takedown, will be open to trying to catch kicks and convert from there. With the speed at which Hill throws those kicks and how well she mixes them in, this will be a hard task for Yoder.

Hill can be pushed to the cage. It is in her best interest to try to avoid this scenario against Yoder, because Yoder can definitely get takedowns from there. In those situations, she has to have her mind on defending the takedown rather than throwing strikes. If she tries to strike, then she won’t be ready to defend. Hill is also good at throwing strikes when breaking off the clinch, and this could make Yoder think twice about trying it again.

If the fight does go to the ground, it would be a losing battle for Hill to try too hard to compete with Yoder. Instead, she has to look to scramble or find an escape. If it’s not there, then she must slow down Yoder, hold her close, and wait for a stand-up. Hill has a good sprawl as well, but she shouldn’t try to engage from a successful sprawl unless she has a very dominant position. She should just back off and get back to work on the feet.

Yoder does let opponents get inside on the feet, but she needs to avoid that here. She has a huge reach advantage and will want to be sure to use it. Her two best striking weapons will be her jab and her leg kicks. By putting the jab out there, she keeps Hill off her and doesn’t need to get into lengthy exchanges where Hill’s speed and experience provide her with an advantage. Kicks to the legs and body can also help slow down Hill. Yoder can throw these kicks without worry, because Hill isn’t looking to time them and score takedowns.

The next step for Yoder is to get it to the ground. She has options. Hill can be pushed to the cage, so she can look to use the jab and punch her way into a clinch. From there, Yoder can get a double leg, a trip, or a throw. Whichever she chooses, she will want to make sure it pulls Hill off the cage a bit so that Hill can’t use the cage to get back up. Yoder has to watch her head, though, because Hill will be throwing in that clinch. Yoder can also use the jab to disguise a shot. She could land a couple and then shoot in. She shouldn’t shoot from a distance, which she is sometimes prone to do. Such shots give Hill ample time to sprawl, move away, or plant a kick right to Yoder’s head. Of course, Yoder could also pull guard. She will happily allow herself to be on the bottom.

If Yoder pulls guard, then she has to keep working. She can be very sneaky off her back with submission attempts and also throws strikes from there. Hill will be looking for an opportunity to stand, so Yoder has to be active and look for a limb. Meanwhile, if Yoder is on top, she must be active in throwing strikes. This could cause Hill to turn and give up her back or at least allow Yoder to advance into a more dominant position.

That’s it for this week. Enjoy the fights!