UFC Sacramento: De Randamie vs. Ladd
Nicco Montano vs. Julianna Pena
This is probably a first for this series — a fight where neither competitor has fought in well over a year, yet it still cracks the list because it’s just that intriguing.
The last time we saw Montano inside the Octagon was the first time we officially saw her inside the Octagon — December 1, 2017, when she earned a unanimous decision victory over Roxanne Modafferi to become the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion. She’s dealt with injuries, illnesses and a suspension since then, along with relocating to the bantamweight ranks, where she looks to re-start her career with a second straight win.
As for Pena, the former Ultimate Fighter winner hasn’t fought since January 2017 when she lost to current flyweight titleholder Valentina Shevchenko. Several months after the bout, Pena announced she was pregnant and in January 2018, she gave birth to a baby girl. Now ready to return, “The Venezuelan Vixen” jumped at the chance to replace the injured Sara McMann and she can instantly insert herself back in the championship chase with a dominant return to the cage in Sacramento.
There is no way of knowing what to expect from these two women once the cage door closes and that’s what makes this matchup so compelling.
Livinha Souza vs. Brianna van Buren
Former Invicta FC strawweight champions collide in this sneaky-good bout stationed on the preliminary portion of this month’s fight card at Golden 1 Center.
Souza is 2-0 since arriving in the UFC, earning victories over Alex Chambers and Sarah Frota to push her overall winning streak to four. The 28-year-old has shown improved strength and Fight IQ in her first two Octagon appearances and will look to maintain her place in the pecking order with a third straight victory.
Tabbed to replace the injured Cynthia Calvillo, van Buren gets the call to the biggest stage in the sport just 10 weeks after collecting three wins in one night to claim the vacant Invicta FC strawweight title.
The 25-year-old was undeniably the breakout star of the Shannon Knapp-helmed promotion’s first Phoenix Rising event in May, beating UFC veterans Juliana Lima and Kailin Curran in the semis and finals to give her a five-fight winning streak since returning from a three-and-a-half-year hiatus.
Strawweight has been in a state of flux for almost two years now, with contenders jostling for position and the title changing hands twice in the last three championship fights, creating an opportunity for the winner of this one to potential vault into the Top 15 as the second half the year kicks off in earnest.