What’s next for Aspen Ladd after UFC Vegas 40?

aspen ladd, mma

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 40, we saw a showdown in the women’s featherweight division. Top bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd (9-2) moved up to featherweight to take on striker Norma Dumont (7-1).

Ladd was supposed to compete back at UFC Vegas 39 in the bantamweight division, but couldn’t make weight. After having a significant layoff due to injury, the weight cut in her return bout proved to be too much. Ladd was removed from the card.

When Holly Holm fell out of the main event against Dumont, the UFC asked Ladd to move up in weight to fight Dumont. Ladd gladly accepted and many were interested to see how she would look in a weight class she’s likely better suited for.

She’s always been looked at as one of the brighter prospects in the UFC, but making 135 pounds has been a struggle for her. Given the state of the featherweight division, this was actually a golden opportunity for Ladd to build some momentum in a new home.

However, the fight didn’t go her way at all. Ladd spent most of the fight on the outside with Dumont picking her apart. There was a lot of tentativeness and non-aggressiveness from Ladd which ultimately cost her the fight at UFC Vegas 40.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 40?

Ladd picked things up towards the end of the fight, but she still walked away losing a decision. There was a lot of controversy surrounding her coaches. Ladd was getting criticized by her coaches in between rounds for not being aggressive and not really fighting.

The criticism from her coaches was completely warranted. We’ve seen Ladd take her coaches feedback before and immediately apply it. Her coaches were trying to get her fired up at UFC Vegas 40, but by the time Ladd got going, it was a bit too late.

So the question becomes, what’s next for Ladd? Well, if she would’ve won, I really liked her at 145 pounds. The UFC needs a new challenger for Amanda Nunes, and Ladd could have made for a compelling challenger.

However, after that performance, she’s likely heading back to 135 pounds. That is perfectly fine as long as she can show the UFC that the weight won’t be an issue. If she can make 135 pounds, I think a good next fight for her would be former title challenger Sara McMann (12-6)

UFC booking rematch between Ketlen Viera and Sara McMann

Today we learned that the UFC is finalizing a bantamweight matchup between Ketlen Viera (11-2) and Sara McMann (12-6). MMA Fighting was the first to report the fight earlier this afternoon. The fight is scheduled to take place on August 28th.

This isn’t the first time that these two top ten bantamweights have stood across from each other. Viera and McMann previously met back in 2017 at UFC 215. That night, Ketlen Viera was able to pick up the arm-triangle submission victory.

Starting with that loss to Viera at UFC 215, Sara McMann is just 1-3 in her last four fights. The former UFC title challenger and Olympic Silver Medalist is getting ready to turn 41 this year, but she has a lot of fight left.

After the birth of her son, McMann took some time off. She returned back in January of 2020 and picked up a good decision win over Lina Lansberg. From there, she took on top contender Julianna Pena at UFC 257.

McMann started the fight out well, but she started fading in the second round. By the third round, Pena was able to get top position on the ground and lock up a rear-naked choke. McMann will look to bounce back in August.

Important UFC matchup for Viera

In March of 2018 at UFC 222, Ketlen Viera defeated Cat Zingano by decision. Viera looked like she was getting close to a UFC title shot seeing as she was a perfect 10-0 in her career and 4-0 inside the octagon.

However, injuries kept her out of the octagon until UFC 245 in December of 2019. After 20 months off, Viera returned to take on Irene Aldana. Aldana knocked Viera out in the first round.

Viera would bounce back against Sijara Eubanks, but then she lost to Yana Kunitskaya back in February. After once looking like a title challenger, Viera is now looking at potentially being 1-3 in her last four UFC fights.

This is a huge fight for both of these ladies. In reality, I’m not sure what happens with the loser of this fight. The winner can pick up some momentum and start climbing the divisional ladder, but the loser will continue to tumble down the rankings with a steep climb up.

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 257 Preview: Julianna Pena – Sara McMann

A UFC 257 matchup that’s been flying under the radar takes place tomorrow in the women’s bantamweight division. Two top ten bantamweights will battle it out as Julianna Pena (9-4) will take on the former Olympian, Sara McMann (12-5).

Sara McMann was an Olympic Silver Medalist in freestyle wrestling and she’s challenged for UFC gold during her tenure as a fighter. However, we haven’t seen much of her over the past couple of years.

Tomorrow night will be McMann’s third fight since the start of 2018. The former title challenger is looking to pickup her second consecutive win tomorrow night. The last time we saw McMann she won a decision over Lina Lansberg.

That fight took place almost a year ago exactly. McMann seems very focused and she seems intent on making another run towards a potential UFC title shot. She has a tough test in front of her if she wants to do that.

Former Ultimate Fighter winner, Julianna Pena, last fought back in October on Fight Island. The Venezuelan Vixen had a really good fight with top contender and former UFC champion, Germaine de Randamie.

Pena had some real bright spots in that fight. However, she was choked unconscious in the third round. Had Pena won that fight, she might’ve been the next in line to face Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title.

UFC 257 Prediction

This is a very good matchup and a very intriguing one at UFC 257. I’m very curious to see how the grappling exchanges go in this fight. Of course, we all know McMann’s pedigree as a wrestler.

However, Pena is one of the better grapplers at 135 pounds. She’s good on top and she’s good on her back. She poses a number of challenges for McMann when it comes to the grappling.

On the feet, Pena is going to enjoy a reach advantage at UFC 257. For her to get the better of the striking, she’s going to need to keep the fight at range and strike long tomorrow night.

I think Pena is going to have the advantage there. For McMann to win tomorrow, she’s going to have to do some damage in the clinch and control Pena on the ground. While I think she’ll have her moments, I see Pena scoring more over three rounds and edging out a decision.

Prediction: Julianna Pena by Unanimous Decision

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.