Aspen Ladd (L) (Jeff Vulgamore/Combat Press)

UFC Fight Night: Ladd vs. Dumont Preview and Predictions

After an injury forced Holly Holm out of her scheduled fight with Norma Dumont, Aspen Ladd stepped in on just a week’s notice. The two women will meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Ladd vs. Dumont this Saturday, Oct. 16.

Ladd was most recently slated to take on Macy Chiasson two weeks ago, but failed to make weight. The bout was subsequently cancelled. This weekend, she moves up a weight class to featherweight as she takes on Dumont. Dumont sports a 6-1 record overall, and she’s 2-1 since joining the UFC. She fell short in her debut against Megan Anderson but has rebounded with back-to-back wins over Ashlee Evans-Smith in a bantamweight fight and Felicia Spencer in her return to the featherweight division.

The co-main event is a heavyweight bout between former champion Andrei Arlovski and Carlos Felipe. Arlovski is in the middle of yet another resurgence, rattling off three wins in his last four contests. The 42 year old is taking on a surging Carlos Felipe who is in the midst of a three-fight winning streak. Felipe, under a newly minted contract, won his last outing by defeating Jake Collier. A win over the aging former champion Arlovski would be the biggest victory of his career.


Also on the main card is a lightweight contest between longtime veteran Jim Miller and newcomer Erick Gonzalez. Miller has struggled recently, dropping two consecutive fights. His opponent, Gonzalez, has won 4 out of his last 5 contests. With this fight, Miller will break his tie with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone for the most career UFC bouts, as he enters the Octagon for the 38th time.

UFC Fight Night Ladd vs. Dumont will be held inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. The event airs in its entirety live on ESPN+ with the prelims kicking off at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the main card at 7 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Andrew Sumian and Matt Petela preview the action in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.

Aspen Ladd stepped in on short notice to replace an injured Holly Holm; does she bolster her reputation with a win over Norma Dumont?

Sumian: The biggest competition in this women’s featherweight main event is not between the competitors, but between Ladd and the scale. Ladd has been given a chance for redemption, after several uncomfortable weigh-ins, when she steps up to face Dumont. This will be Dumont’s fourth UFC appearance after compiling a 2-1 record.

It is unfortunate that such a talented fighter like Ladd is unable to figure out her weight-cutting issues and successfully compete on a regular basis. The California native is still only 26 years old, after compiling a 9-1 professional record, and has the ability to become a future star. She i both talented and has knock-out ability. Instead, the third-ranked women’s bantamweight has had two bout cancellations due to missing weight and several instances on the scale where she looked visibly ill during weigh-ins. After cancelled bouts with both Julianna Pena and Macy Chiasson, Ladd will look to get back on track in the main event versus Dumont.

Dumont enters the bout against Ladd after compiling a 6-1 pro record. The Brazilian lost her UFC debut via knockout to the aforementioned Anderson, before rebounding with wins over Evans-Smith and Felicia Spencer. Now, she looks to extend her winning streak to three, when she takes on Ladd.

There really isn’t much to say in regards to this bout. Aspen Ladd is clearly the better fighter between the two, and if she is able to successfully make weight, she will knock Dumont out in notable fashion and gradually repair her tarnished reputation. Dumont getting a main event slot speaks to how desperate the division is for new talent after Amanda Nunes has successfully cleaned out any shape or form of competition.

There is a world where Ladd either misses weight, or has a very difficult weight cut, which bleeds into her performance capability come Saturday night. If either were to happen, there is a chance for Dumont to edge a decision victory over Ladd, and pull off the biggest win of her career, despite Ladd’s setbacks. Assuming this does not happen, Ladd wins via knockout.

Petela: The world where Ladd struggles on the scale is the real world. Stepping in on short notice is a bold move and, likely, an attempt to repair her somewhat damaged reputation. This is coming on the heels of having her bantamweight bout against Chiasson cancelled just two weeks prior. All respect to Ladd for taking that chance but it won’t pay off for her this weekend.

This fight is going to be at featherweight, so the weight cut shouldn’t be as drastic, but she hasn’t had time to put on the requisite muscle, and therefore strength, to compete at a higher weight class. That’s a dangerous position to be in against Dumont. Dumont looked great in her last appearance, defeating Felicia Spencer after stepping in as a late replacement for Danyelle Wolf. In that bout, she looked like the better grappler and the better striker against a former title challenger. This bout will be another showcase of how skilled Dumont has become in a short time. It will force Aspen Ladd to retool her weight cut to ensure she can successfully make 135 pounds, after realizing she doesn’t have the strength to compete against featherweight fighters.

Andrei Arlovski picked up a win over Chase Sherman in his last outing; does the 42-year-old former champion have another victory in him this weekend when he takes on Carlos Felipe?

Petela: No. The great Arlovski has had one of the most incredible careers in the history of the sport. It’s been fifteen years since he held the UFC heavyweight title, and yet he has remained a relevant player in the division ever since, both inside and outside of the UFC. However, even on his recent 3-1 run, he has noticeably lost a step and has shown signs of a fighter at the end of his career. Most notably, he has shown the inability to pull the trigger and put combinations together. This fight against a surging Felipe will be another example of that.

Felipe has won three straight contests, all by decision. Expect him to make it four straight with another decision victory against a gun-shy Arlovski in a rather lackluster affair.

Sumian: My colleague’s argument in favor of Felipe is clear and concise. However, I do favor Arlovski in this matchup, despite his age.

The former UFC heavyweight champion has compiled an impressive 3-1 record since May 2020, taking out the likes of Philipe Lins, Tanner Boser and Chase Sherman. All three of those names can be considered stiffer competition than what an undersized Felipe brings to the table.

As long as Arlovski sticks to a game plan he can execute for three straight rounds, while avoiding any power punches from Felipe, the former champion will pick up a second-straight victory and continue to play spoiler for the up-and-comers of the heavyweight division. A combination of things – jabs, consistent leg kicks and fighting at distance – will be key for Arlovski to take out the streaking Felipe.

Erick Gonzalez and Istela Nunes; do we need to know these names?

Sumian: Erick Gonzalez certainly has one of the cooler nicknames I have yet to come across. “The Ghost Pepper” is a Torrance, Calif. native who has compiled a 14-5 record outside the UFC. At 29 years old, and having already compiled nine wins by finish, Gonzalez can be a worthy addition to the UFC lightweight roster. He will have a tough UFC debut ahead of him, when he takes on the legend Jim Miller in his first UFC appearance.

If Gonalzez does not crack under debut pressure, and stays calm and composed on his feet, he has a real shot of giving Miller some trouble. In 48 professional fights, Miller has only been finished five times, so the chances of this are somewhat slim. Expect a good showing from Gonzalez, win or lose, and perhaps a more suitable opponent for his sophomore UFC appearance.

Istela Nunes makes her promotional debut, after compiling a 6-1 record outside the UFC. The Brazil native is still relatively green to professional combat and takes on a dangerous Ariane Carnelossi. Expect Nunes to lose her UFC debut. Her second UFC appearance will show if she truly belongs in the big leagues or not.

Petela: If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a dozen times, the best ability is availability. That is what both of these newcomers have going for them this weekend.

My colleague is right that Gonzalez has one of the best nicknames in the sport, and I’ll tune in to watch him fight if for no other reason than to hear his name announced him as “The Ghost Pepper.” However, he isn’t coming out of one of the premier feeder systems for the UFC, and his resume isn’t full of wins over fighters who are close to the UFC level. I’m hesitant to think that, even if he stumbles out of the gates, he will be able to right the ship and make the UFC his longtime home.

Nunes is a prospect who had a 2-1 record inside ONE Championship, before signing with the UFC. She is an interesting fighter to watch to see if she can mature into a UFC strawweight contender, in an already deep division. My hunch is that she won’t make waves near the top of the division.

What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?

Petela: Aspen Ladd. While a loss might not necessarily mean the end of her tenure with the promotion, any troubles on the scale could have catastrophic repercussions. There have been numerous times when she has looked visibly gaunt at weigh-ins. Another weight miss or pre-fight scare could make the UFC force her to move up to featherweight full-time, which is hardly even a division. If that is the case, she could find herself on the outside, looking in, sooner rather than later.

Sumian: The only answer to this question that makes sense, for a card filled with competitors coming off wins or riding winning streaks, is my partner’s. If Ladd has any other hiccups on the scale or suffers some out-of-the-blue submission loss to Dumont, the UFC may choose to cut ties and move on.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Sumian: How can one not pick the middleweight between Jordan Wright and Julian Marquez? The duo combine for 21 professional victories, all by way of submission or knockout. These two will go guns blazing as soon as the bell rings. Expect a wild war up until the third round. when Marquez finds a way to secure a finish submission on the ground, after the pair put in three rounds of pure action.

Petela: Sijara Eubanks vs. Luana Carolina. When Eubanks faces elite competition, she typically ends up on the wrong end of a lopsided decision. But when she’s in there against someone just one notch below elite, she not only has a good chance at winning, but she often puts on memorable and entertaining performances. That will be the case this weekend against Carolina, with the two women engaging in a back-and-forth affair that steals the show on the preliminary card.

Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?

Petela: Jim Miller. He is taking on newcomer Erick Gonzalez, who will find himself out of his depth standing opposite Miller in the cage. The high level grappling of Miller will be on display early and often, and he will dominate the first round, before securing a submission victory before the end of round two. This will earn the vet his thirteenth post-fight bonus with the UFC.

Sumian: Ramazan Emeev. The Dagestani fighter has compiled a 5-1 record since joining the UFC, and he continues to evolve in every performance. He is taking on Danny Roberts, who is susceptible to being finished. This is to Emeev’s advantage. Emeev will earn the first finish of his UFC career, when he submits Roberts in the second round and continues his rise in the welterweight division.

Pair this card with…

Sumian: A good ol’ lad. There are many fighters on this card riding winning streaks and coming off incredible performances in their last UFC appearances. Despite the event featuring talent from top to bottom, it lacks any serious name value to bolster the level of praise and attention it deserves. As a result, all eyes will be on Ladd, who could very well find herself in a difficult position should she suffer a surprising loss. Thus, grab your best lad and see if the story of redemption plays into the young bantamweight contender’s favor in an evening sure to deliver excitement.

Petela: A fully charged phone. There is a serious lack of name recognition on this fight card, so make sure that your phone is charged, so that you can quickly check Tapology to refresh your memory about each fighter. That’s not to say that these relatively unknown fighters don’t belong in the promotion, or that they won’t put on fan-friendly fights. Many of them will do so, and this card will be the launching pad for some of these fighters, as they begin to become household names.

Fight Sumian’s Pick Petela’s Pick
Main Card (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
Women’s FW: Aspen Ladd vs. Norma Dumont Dumont Ladd
HW: Andrei Arlovski vs. Carlos Felipe Arlovski Felipe
LW: Jim Miller vs. Erick Gonzalez Miller Miller
Women’s FlyW: Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva Fiorot Fiorot
MW: Julian Marquez vs. Jordan Wright Marquez Marquez
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
MW: Andrew Sanchez vs. Bruno Silva Sanchez Sanchez
WW: Danny Roberts vs. Ramazan Emeev Roberts Emeev
Women’s FlyW: Sijara Eubanks vs. Luana Carolina Carolina Eubanks
FW: Nate Landwehr vs. Ludovit Klein Landwehr Landwehr
BW: Danaa Batgerel vs. Brandon Davis Davis Davis
Women’s StrawW: Istela Nunes vs. Ariane Carnelossi Carnelossi Carnelossi