The UFC debut of the women’s strawweight division kicked off UFC Fight Night 45 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as former Invicta FC title contender Claudia Gadelha (11-0) and Tina Lahdemaki (5-0) fought on the lone UFC Fight Pass prelim.
Gadelha, thought of to be one of the best fighters in the division, came in as the biggest favourite on the card–an over 5-to-1 favourite over her opponent, and very much looked the part. Out-muscling her opponent and dominating on the mat, leading to an eventual unanimous decision.
Gadelha was set to face the last reigning Invicta FC Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza at Invicta FC 7, but an injury to the champion delayed the bout, which never came to fruition. When it was announced that the majority of Invicta FC’s 115lbers would be moving onto the UFC as part of the The Ultimate Fighter 20 season, Claudia Gadelha was set to be one of the fighters to take part in the season. However, being that she’s not fluent in English, the UFC decided not include her in TUF 20, and offered her a UFC contract instead.
The Finnish fighter, Tina “Jelly Bean” Lahdemaki dropped to strawweight in her last bout, after having competed in the flyweight in her previous 4 bouts–going undefeated.
The first strawweight bout in UFC history started off striking on the feet with both fighters exchanging strikes in short flurries. Gadelha tied up Lahdemaki in the muay thai clinch and landed a couple knees before throwing her onto the mat. Lahdemaki tried to scramble back up to her feet, only to get slammed back on the mat by Gadelha. The Brazilian controlled the rest of the round in top position, eventually mounting and taking the back of Lahdemaki–while landing strikes on the ground. Gadelha tried her best to finish the fight in the final minute with a deep neck crank, but Tina defends to escape the round.
Tina Lahdemaki came out firing to start the 2nd, throwing and landing hooks, but once again Gadelha would muscle her way into a clinch and slamming down Lahdemaki to the mat. Lahdemaki stood back up with Gadelha still in control of her back, which the referee eventually separated the two from the clinch. Claudia Gadelha again displayed her Muay Thai skills, landing knees inside the clinch to the head of “Jelly Bean”. Lahdemaki took advantage as it seemed Gadelha began to slow in the 2nd half of the round, beginning to land her boxing combinations over and over.
Lahdemaki came out the fresher fighter in round 3, but Gadelha remained as aggressive in the stand up, both exchanging left hooks. More one-shots being thrown in the round, instead of combinations but landing at a high rate. The Brazilian quickly got double under hooks on the Fin and took her down instantly, from half guard began to land ground and pound. The fight ended with Gadelha in Lahdemaki’s guard position, after a 2nd huge takedown late in the round.
Claudia Gadelha solidified her place in history, being the first women’s strawweight to win inside the UFC—improving to 12-0, while handing Tina Lahdemaki her first career loss.
Claudia Gadelha def. Tina Lahdemaki via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Full Results of UFC Fight Night 45: Cerrone vs Miller can be found here.