The 2022 season for the UFC has kicked off with a bang. With a slew of exciting showdowns already taking place earlier this year, the UFC is only getting started as it looks to deliver another thrilling chapter in mixed martial arts history.
Although we’ve witnessed some special main cards just a little over three months into the year, UFC 273 has the potential to be one of the best events yet.
Highlighted by brewing title aspirations and profound ambitions to sustain championship legacies on the line, this main card also presents us with an opportunity to see some of the most dangerous contenders of their respective divisions go head-to-head in must-win matchups as they seek to climb their way up to the top of the rankings.
To start the main event, fans will get to see an intense, veteran clash between lightweights Vinc Pichel and Mark Madsen. Prior to this bout being added last minute to the main card on Tuesday, fans were originally supposed to see a thrilling middleweight battle between Kelvin Gastelum and Nassourdine Imavov. But following visa complications from Imavov, he couldn’t fly to the U.S. and had to drop out of the bout.
Soon after, Gastelum found a new opponent to take on in the bright South African starlet, Dricus Du Plessis. But just days after the matchup was announced, Gastelum withdrew from the fight due to an undisclosed injury, resulting in the bout being removed altogether from the main card.
Despite these circumstances, viewers will get to see two of the best women’s strawweights in number five ranked Mackenzie Dern and number seven ranked Tecia Torres face off in a huge showdown that has the potential to place the winner one step closer to a title shot.
With so much at stake for both strawweight’s, this fight has the means to provide an electrifying atmosphere to start off an action-packed night. Without further ado, here is the prediction for the second main card bout of UFC 273:
*A Note From The Author: As you will noticed, I chose not to write a prediction breakdown on the Vinc Pichel vs Mark Madsen matchup and for two reasons. First, I personally feel that this matchup should not be on the main card and is just a big downgrade from the two fights that were initially scheduled for Kelvin Gastelum. But secondly, I wanted to refrain from making this two-part feature longer than it needed to be.
4. Mackenzie Dern vs Tecia Torres:
At only age 28, Mackenzie Dern has increasingly established her presence in one stacked women’s strawweight division. Possessing a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Dern is a fearsome menace on the mat. And with her powerful strength and poised demeanor, can submit just about anyone in this division if the opportunity presents itself.
Since entering the UFC in 2018, Dern is 4-0 via submission and has submitted the likes of Amanda Cooper, Hannah Cifers, Randa Markos, and most recently, Nina Nunes. To add to it, Dern is one durable, tough fighter that has yet to get knocked out or submitted in her MMA career, illustrating how difficult it is to defeat her. Dern has only lost twice in eight appearances with the UFC, both by unanimous decision, which includes her most recent fight last October against current third-ranked strawweight Marina Rodriguez.
In this matchup, what led Dern to come up short was the one weakness she’s been working hard to improve: her striking. Over the course of her first five-round fight against Rodriguez, Dern struggled to counter Rodriguez and failed to land many of the significant strikes she threw, getting outstruck 144 to 49 in significant strikes (despite attempting 174 of them).
Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres:
Although she only stands at 5’1” and possesses a reach of just 60.5”, Tecia Torres has continuously proven that she has the skillset and means to compete at the highest level within this division despite her short height and reach.
With lightning-quick speed and a significant striking accuracy percentile of 55.11, Torres is one solid striking specialist that can land a flurry of biting shots in a matter of seconds. This talent of hers is not only founded on a black belt she attained in Jhoon-Rhee Taekwondo but is also accompanied by a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Much like her opponent, Torres is one really tough fighter to take out, having yet to lose by knockout or submission ever in her MMA career. In fact, all five of her UFC losses have come down to unanimous decision, despite going up against some of the best strawweights in those bouts, including the likes of Rose Namajunas, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Zhang Weili.
Unlike her opponent though, Torres isn’t known for her submission game and isn’t the best on the mat. Though she boasts a solid takedown average of .71 per each 15 mins, her submission average is only .08, highlighting her lack of success in an area that her opponent just happens to be very good at.
Winner: Mackenzie Dern
What makes this matchup so intriguing really comes down to just how tough and versatile both of these female strawweights are. With each of them only losing by unanimous decision over their entire careers so far, both of these mixed martial artists will have to put forth their utter best if either of them intends to finish the other in under three rounds.
Considering how well-balanced this showdown is, don’t be surprised if it comes down to yet another unanimous or even split decision ruling. But if you assess the skillsets and overall experiences each of these strawweights have, Dern does rise above Torres as the better mixed martial artist and is in line to secure a big win.
In all fairness, Torres is a very athletic and gifted striker, often incorporating quick combos that are difficult to avoid. But even as she enters her eighth season in the UFC, Torres has really struggled to assert her dominance inside the Top 10 since her debut in 2014. Following her win against Michelle Waterson in 2017 (who’s currently ranked 8th in the division), Torres has come up short against every Top 10 opponent she’s faced, which included back-to-back losses to both Weili and Rodriguez in 2019.
Though Dern has come up short to two different Top 10 opponents as well in both Rodriquez and Amanda Ribas, she did submit Nunes last April, who was ranked sixth overall. From her striking power to her elite grappling game to her relentless endurance, Dern has the upper hand on various different levels over Torres and will look to put that on full display come Saturday night.