Macy Chiasson (R) (Jeff Vulgamore/Combat Press)

Women’s MMA Weekend Preview: UFC Fight Night 188

Jillian DeCoursey Guest Writer

Once again, the UFC provides us with three female bouts on this weekend’s card. UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland features Cheyanne Buys against late-notice replacement Montserrat Ruiz, Marion Reneau and Macy Chiasson in a rescheduled fight from earlier this year, and Julia Avila against Julija Stoliarenko. Let’s jump right in for a look at these contests.

Cheyanne Buys vs. Montserrat Ruiz

Buys fights for the first time since winning her UFC contract with a great performance against Hilarie Rose on Dana White’s Contender Series in August. She improved her record to 5-1 with the victory. Now, she’s set to fight a better version of the opponent she just fought.

Ruiz brings a 9-1 record into her UFC debut following a first-round submission of Janaisa Morandin under the Invicta banner in July. Ruiz replaces Kay Hansen in this fight on very short notice. She will want to try to do the same things that Rose wanted to do to Buys.


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The test here for Ruiz will be what kind of shape she’s in. You often hear fighters say they are ready for a short-notice bout and that they are always training. Yes, we are all always training. We are all always in the gym. That’s not the hard part of short-notice fights. It’s two different things to be in shape and to be in fight shape. It will be interesting to see what kind of cardio Ruiz has here.

Buys excels in her stand-up. She can lead or counter, and she will go to the body and mix her strikes up. Her movement is good, too. She needs to decide — and she might not be able to do so until she sees what Ruiz does — if she wants to be aggressive and come forward or use her movement, let Ruiz come to her, and look to counter.

Trying to lead might suit Buys best, though. Ruiz has a tendency to lower her head with her hands down. If that’s something she does here, then Buys can use it as an open target. In fact, she might even be able to force Ruiz to do it more often. To do this, Buys will want to keep the fight in the middle of the cage. If she lets go with the proverbial “punches in bunches” and gets Ruiz a bit desperate to get a takedown, then she’s going to make that head lower more often.

It will also help for Buys to mix up her strikes between body and head, because Ruiz will look to get close and tie her up to get it to the ground. If Ruiz doesn’t know where the strikes are coming from, then that will make her have trouble timing when to shoot in.

Buys wants to avoid grappling, getting caught in clinches, and, most of all, being taken down. Ruiz telegraphs when she’s coming in. She’ll reach her arms out and sort of do the Frankenstein walk. When Buys sees those arms reach out, she just has to back away.

Buys is deceptively strong and very good at getting her back off the cage. If Ruiz gets the clinch, then Buys will want to get off the cage and then do the next two things she’s good at, starting with putting pressure on the head and neck. Buys can wrap the arms around the head, basically in a Thai clinch, and bend the head down. This brings her to step two: knees. She can use them to do damage before breaking off.

I’ve made it sound short and simple, but Buys’ path to victory is short and simple. Ruiz’s path to victory is also simple.

Ruiz has to get the fight to the ground and stay on top. This might be even more important here for a couple reasons. First, she doesn’t not know what her cardio is going to be like, so getting the fight to the ground and slowing it down might benefit her in saving some energy as the fight progresses. Additionally, since this is her UFC debut, Ruiz could be dealing with nerves. If she brings the fight into her world, then it might help to calm those nerves. Yes, this is the UFC debut of Buys as well, but she fought on the Contender Series, where she would have faced even more pressure in trying to earn a contract.

Ruiz doesn’t want to get caught up in a slugfest on the feet. She has to disguise the shots, because Buys has a good sprawl. She can do that a variety of ways, but the best way would be to throw some punches and kicks before shooting in for a double leg. It will be harder for Buys to successfully sprawl if Ruiz drives in for power shots. She can really drive into it, too, sort of like a football player doing the drill where they drive into the blocking sled to replicate trying to rush through a lineman to get to the quarterback.

When Ruiz gets it to the ground, she shouldn’t rush to pass. She has to take it one step at a time. If she does that, she should be able to control Buys. Position before submission is the way to go here. Let a possible submission open itself up.

Marion Reneau vs. Macy Chiasson

This fight is very interesting, but it doesn’t need to be overanalyzed. I hate to say a fighter, especially at this level, has a “weakness.” However, if there is a part of each fighter’s game that can use improvement, it’s one that might not hinder them in this fight. I’ll explain what I mean shortly.

Reneau is in need of a win. She has dropped three straight, albeit to tough opposition, since her last win, a finish of Sara McMann. She is going to be at a big disadvantage in height and reach here, so she is going to have to get inside. The problem there is that Reneau has been known to throw her strikes from almost too far away.

Reneau needs to find a way inside. Luckily for her, she is facing someone who is willing to let fighters get close. In Chiasson’s last fight with Shanna Young, Chiasson, the better striker, let Young get in close and land some really good shots, especially head kicks. Reneau just has to mix up the strikes — go high and go low, and throw from different angles. When she is in close, she should throw a lot of punches and keep the pressure on. When Chiasson can dictate the pace, she is great. However, when Chiasson lets someone else dictate the pace, she gets caught. Reneau will have to eat punches — that’s unavoidable — but she can land and do damage if she can get inside.

Reneau’s best bet to win this, however, will be on the ground. The clinch is a good idea, because her best shot at a takedown will come from there. She absolutely must avoid Chiasson’s Thai clinch, though. Chiasson is brutal from that position. So, Reneau has to work it to the cage. In her last fight, Reneau allowed Raquel Pennington to bully her in the clinch. She can’t allow Chiasson to do the same. She should hurriedly push Chiasson to the cage and take advantage of being the shorter fighter. She can get that head position, which she’s good at, and eventually drop down.

When Reneau gets it to the ground, she can’t be lazy. Chiasson can throw things up off her back and has long legs that help with that. Reneau should look to get to at least half guard as quickly as possible, which will eliminate some of the things Chiasson can do. Then, Reneau can land ground-and-pound strikes. If she can be aggressive, she will be able to do damage and perhaps open up something like an arm triangle. She just can’t be reckless and allow Chiasson to reverse the position, because Chiasson can also be great from the top.

Reneau has a lot of physical disadvantages in this fight that she must overcome. It will not be easy to do so. However, she has faced the much tougher opposition of the two, and that experience can help her. Furthermore, she has hinted at it herself, but her back is against the wall here. Reneau needs to win, and that should make her a more dangerous fighter.

Chiasson won her last fight over the aforementioned Young, but that was almost a year ago. Chiasson’s path to victory can be summed up in two words: Thai clinch. She has a very, very good Thai clinch. Her long arms help a lot, and Reneau can get caught in them.

Chiasson has a big reach advantage, but she doesn’t always use it. Young was able to get close with relative ease and hurt her with strikes, especially some nice head kicks. Chiasson will want to use her jab to keep Reneau at a distance. She can really batter Reneau from there and break down her foe to make everything after that much easier. As much as Reneau needs to get inside, though, Chiasson doesn’t really need to prevent it, because she will really welcome that clinch and can really batter Reneau with knees to the body. As an added bonus, those knees won’t have to climb high to land to the head. This is where Chiasson can really hurt Reneau.

If Chiasson can push Reneau to the cage, then she can do the things that will make Reneau have trouble dropping down. Underhooks will help, but the big thing is to use her forearm to frame and land elbows. If you aren’t familiar with this technique, framing in its simplest description means to get the forearm in there and use it to push the head away or even dictate where it goes. The creation of space will allow Chiasson to throw elbows — she has good ones — and make Reneau ask herself if she wants to stay there and take them to pursue the takedown.

Chiasson doesn’t want to be on her back, but it’s not the end of the world if she does end up there. She just needs to get guard. With her long limbs, she should be able to, for the most part, control Reneau’s posture.

That being said, it really is all about that Thai clinch for Chiasson. My prediction is that Chiasson will have at least once gotten that clinch and thrown knees from it within two minutes of the opening bell.

Julia Avila vs. Julija Stoliarenko

This is going to be another one of those fights that really doesn’t need a lot of analysis. It is a pretty basic case of one fighter who will want to be on the feet and one who will want to be on the ground.

Avila comes in at 8-2 after a September decision loss to Sijara Eubanks. She wants to keep this fight upright, which was an issue for her in the Eubanks fight. Perhaps that fight might help her to be ready for this one, but it also might have shown potential trouble she could have here.

Stoliarenko enters at 9-4-1 after a decision loss to Yana Kunitskaya in August. While everyone’s lasting memory of Stoliarenko will be her epic bloodbath with Lisa Verzosa in the Invicta cage, she would still rather be on the ground, especially in this one.

Avila has power. She is aggressive and can flurry. She will want to avoid getting too close against Stoliarenko. She has to strike from a safe distance. When she does come in, she must land and then get out. She can’t afford to stick around long enough for Stoliarenko to grab a hold of her.

Avila does at times reach in with her punches. If she over-commits, then it will leave her open for potential shots from Stoliarenko.

While it maybe goes against her nature, Avila has to circle a bit and not stand still. She must make Stoliarenko have trouble tracking her.

We saw in Stoliarenko’s last fight that she can be bullied in the clinch. She can be held there and have trouble escaping. Avila is good in the clinch when she is on the outside. So, if Stoliarenko gets the clinch, Avila will want to try to quickly force it to the cage. From there, she can land strikes, especially knees, and pin Stoliarenko tight to prevent her from getting takedowns.

If it does go to the ground, Avila is good at getting up. However, it is crucial to be smart with her defense. She shouldn’t do anything that will leave her arm exposed, because Stoliarenko is always hunting for an arm and usually will find it. Avila wants to be safe and hold Stoliarenko. She can maybe get possession of one of Stoliarenko’s hands or arms and prevent Stoliarenko from looking for one of hers.

If Avila lands on top, which can happen because Stoliarenko isn’t afraid to pull guard, she will want to keep her arms off the mat on top. This prevents Stoliarenko from grabbing that arm and converting an armbar.

As we know from the Verzosa fight, Stoliarenko can take a beating. She’s not going to go away, and she’s not going to be afraid of a fist fight. She also won’t panic if the takedown takes time. On the feet, she just wants to avoid a fire fight, which Avila would win.

Stoliarenko is going to have to throw hands to get the fight to the canvas.Her best bet will be to counter by trying to come over the top of Avila’s punches. She can let Avila come forward and allow the takedown to come to her. She won’t want to chase. Instead, she’ll want to throw lots of feints to get Avila to reach on punches. This will allow her to counter over the top, and it will eventually lead to takedowns.

If Stoliarenko is able to clinch, she has to be the aggressor. She can’t let Avila bully her to the cage. Avila is good on the outside in the clinch, and Stoliarenko saw what happened in Avila’s fight with Yana Kunitskaya. Stoliarenko should either try to push Avila to the cage or, more ideally, get it down.

Stoliarenko has a couple of options on the takedown. A quick trip takedown might work best. If Avila is moving her feet in the clinch, pushing or being pushed, then a quick trip might work while Avila is off balance. Stoliarenko could also jump and pull guard. She doesn’t mind being on bottom, and it might even give her more armbar opportunities.

If Stoliarenko lands on top, she should secure the position first and keep Avila there. She shouldn’t rush the submission attempt and give Avila the opportunity to get up. This also might make Avila get desperate and lead to a mistake.

This is a fight where each lady has a really preferred way they want to see the fight go. While both are fine in the other’s preference, it is not where they’ll want to be.


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