UFC books Aspen Ladd – Macy Chiasson

One of the best bantamweights in the UFC is making her return. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report today that Aspen Ladd (9-1) will be making her return to the octagon and she will be taking on Macy Chiasson (7-1).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on July 24th. Chiasson is going to have a massive opportunity to play spoiler on July 24th. For the last few years, Aspen Ladd has been widely considered one of the best prospects in MMA.

She will make the walk on July 24th ranked third in the bantamweight division while Chiasson is ranked ninth. The UFC‘s ninth ranked bantamweight has won two in a row and she’s 5-1 in the octagon for her career.

She competed only once in 2020 and defeated Shanna Young by decision. She returned just a couple of weeks ago at UFC Vegas 22 and defeated Marion Reneau by unanimous decision. A win over Ladd would be massive for her career.

UFC return for Aspen Ladd

As mentioned, Aspen Ladd has been one of the biggest prospects in the UFC over the last few years. Her lone blemish in the octagon came against Germaine de Randamie who landed the perfect shot just seconds into their fight.

However, outside of that, Ladd has been tremendous. In her last fight, she stopped the durable Yana Kunitskaya in the third round. After that win, the UFC set her up to take on former Olympian and title challenger, Sara McMann.

However, Ladd tore her ACL and she hasn’t competed since. This will be her first fight in the UFC since December of 2019. Chiasson is a super tough contender and not an easy opponent for Ladd to come back to.

Given the status of the division, this fight is extremely important. If Ladd is able to come out and dominate, she could be in position to have a title eliminator in her next UFC bout. For Chiasson, this is an opportunity to bust into the top five and make some noise at 135.

Does Julianna Pena deserve a title shot after UFC 257?

This past weekend at UFC 257, Julianna Pena (10-4) took on Sara McMann (12-6) on the prelims. After losing the first round, Pena performed very well on Saturday night and ended up pulling off a rear-naked choke in the third round.

It was a big win for Julianna Pena and the win put her at sixth in the UFC‘s bantamweight rankings. However, the headlines weren’t surrounding the performance. The headlines were around the post-fight interview.

After the fight was over, Pena called out the UFC‘s two-division champion, Amanda Nunes (20-4). Pena said that Nunes was ducking her and that a fight between the two women needed to be made.

Nunes immediately clapped back on Twitter saying, “Ducking? You couldn’t even make yourself a contender for me.” The notion that Amanda Nunes is ducking Julianna Pena is completely ridiculous and the callout didn’t make sense from that perspective.

I completely understand calling out the UFC champion. However, the reality is that Nunes has never dodged Pena. In fact, Nunes is correct in that Pena has lost both of her title eliminator fights that would have earned her a shot. So after her win at UFC 257, does Julianna Pena deserve the next shot?

A UFC title shot for Pena?

The simple answer her is no. Julianna Pena’s win at UFC 257 does not warrant a title shot. We can’t forget the fact that Pena was just put to sleep by Germaine De Randamie (10-4) a few months ago.

Julianna Pena is 2-2 since 2016 and neither one of those wins came against top five competition. That resume doesn’t warrant a shot at the UFC bantamweight title and the greatest of all time in Amanda Nunes.

For Pena to get a title shot, she’s going to need to beat someone in the UFC’s top five. However, I will say that nobody in front of her would make for a more compelling matchup against Nunes.

Nunes has already defeated de Randamie twice and she knocked out Holly Holm (14-5). The two most compelling contenders outside of Holm and de Randamie are Pena and Aspen Ladd (9-1). Ladd is currently recovering from a knee injury.

I think the best play for the UFC is to pair up Holm against de Randamie for the second time. In addition, they should book Pena against Aspen Ladd. The winner of Ladd and Pena would provide a compelling new challenger for Amanda Nunes. However, to be clear, Julianna Pena shouldn’t jump the line.

UFC: Aspen Ladd tears ACL; Out of UFC on ESPN 12

UFC

Next week’s UFC card just suffered a hit as top bantamweight contender, Aspen Ladd (9-1) has been forced off the card after tearing her ACL.

UFC on ESPN 12 loses a good one

One of the fights I was really looking forward to next week was Ladd taking on former title challenger, Sara McMann (12-5). McMann, a former silver medalist in Olympic wrestling, was going to pose an interesting challenge for the rising contender. Ladd has a solid game all the way around, but I was really curious to watch her against the former Olympian. There is no word on if McMann will remain on the card as of this point. As John Morgan pointed out, it will likely be anywhere from six months to a year before Ladd is able to actually compete given the recovery timeline. A win next Saturday would have put Ladd in a good position for a UFC title shot. This is a massive setback for her career.

Still a strong card

The good thing for the UFC is that the card next weekend has some really solid fights up and down. This is one of the fights that I was the most excited for, but there are plenty of solid replacement options for the main card. All we can do is hope for a speedy recovery for Ladd as she recovers from this devastating knee injury.

UFC Announces fight cards for June 20th & 27th

UFC, Dana White

UFC President, Dana White, went on ESPN early this afternoon to confirm and announce the full cards for the planned UFC Fight Nights on June 20th and 27th. Both cards will be taking place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The June 20th card will be headlined by heavyweights, Curtis Blaydes (13-2) and Alexander Volkov (31-7). That fight was announced earlier this month. The June 27th card is being headlined by a highly anticipated lightweight matchup between Dustin Poirier (25-6) and Dan Hooker (20-8). Let’s dive into some of the fights that were confirmed by White this afternoon.

UFC Fight Night – June 20th

Next Saturday night, the UFC has a pretty stacked card that will air on ESPN and ESPN+. One of the fights that I’m looking forward to is the co-main event of the evening between featherweights Josh Emmett (15-2) and Shane Burgos (13-1). Both of these two men are finishers, and bring multiple fight winning streaks into the event. A win for either guy could net them a top-five opponent in the featherweight division. Emmett is one of the more powerful punchers in the featherweight division, so anytime he’s booked, you might get to see a highlight reel knockout.

Another fight that stands out on the main card is Jim Miller (31-14) and Roosevelt Roberts (10-1). That fight will kick-off the UFC’s main card on ESPN. A quick turn around for Roberts, as he just competed back on May 30th against Brok Weaver. If Roberts is able to take out the veteran, Jim Miller, you could see a ranking in his future. This fight is being fought at a catchweight of 160 pounds. There are several very solid fights on the card next Saturday, and you can view the entire fight card here.

UFC Fight Night – June 27th

A huge main event is scheduled for this fight night in the UFC’s lightweight division, but there are solid fights up and down the card. The card is not 100% complete, so there will be additional fights added to this card as we get closer to the 27th. One of the fights that has caught my eye is Aspen Ladd (9-1) taking on former title challenger, Sara McMann (12-5). Ladd suffered her first career loss at the hands of Germaine de Randamie, but bounced back big-time with a third round TKO victory over Yana Kunitskaya at UFC on ESPN 7. Ladd has really good grappling skills, but it’ll be interesting to see her go up against the Olympic silver medalist, McMann.

The co-main event of the evening should be action packed between the always entertaining, Mike “Platinum” Perry (13-6), and Mickey Gall (6-2). Look for Perry to fight with a ton of urgency in this one. Perry is coming into the night after going 1-3 in his last four fights. A win over a solid guy like Mickey Gall would really get him back on track. For Gall, he’s trying to win his second consecutive fight after he was finished by Diego Sanchez. More prelims will be added to the card, but you can view the card as is right here.