Bethe Correia could be fighting for her UFC future on Saturday, and she’ll need the performance of her career to get the upset over Holly Holm.
Fans are aware of something: Bethe Correia has a huge gift in front of her at UFC Singapore.
With only one victory in her last several fights, she should be fighting just stay in the top ten. Instead, “Pitbull” is facing a former champion and has a chance to re-inject herself into the middle of the rankings with a victory.
Correia has been in a slump, there’s no way around it. Her opponents have grown privy to her tactics and exploit the lack of physical advantages she possesses. “Pitbull” remains a dangerous fighter, to be sure. Against the fence, she is one of the most punishing fighters in unleashing heavy shots as she crowds her opponents. Fans who have forgotten that should look back at her performance against Shayna Bazler to be reminded what she is capable of.
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But, the fight in Singapore is different. Over a year removed from her shot at the UFC title, the division has evolved and seemingly left Correia in its wake.
The powerful Amanda Nunes stands alone at the top of the division while versatile fighters like Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena follow close behind.
Correia is more efficient than she was before, but she has yet to display a new development in her game that indicates she’s grown her skills to provide problems to the elite.
The fight with Holly Holm is critical for her, with serious implications for her fighting future. She is at the very least fighting to stay in the rankings, and at worst her spot in the UFC is on the line.
Bethe benefits from the fact that Holm is actually on a worse skid than herself. “The Preacher’s Daughter” has lost her last three fights and needs a victory herself to remain in the rankings. With such personal stakes on the line, it’s easy to predict a sense of urgency for Saturday’s match.
Correia is hoping that a victory puts her back in the picture to begin building her way back to the elite of the division. She did it once before, intelligently exploiting the popularity and ego of Rousey to her advantage in 2015. In taunting and eliminating Rousey’s teammates, she talked her way into a title fight in her native Brazil. Correia, of course, would go on to lose in brutal fashion by KO.
In 2017, Correia outside the cage carries the same intensity but she has been without a dance partner to engage in pre-fight confrontation. She has become a heel without a foil. A villain without a hero to build a compelling storyline. Holm has nothing to say about Correia personally, speaking only on her mindset and the task at hand of winning the fight.
Stylistically, Correia has to come out with a high volume. Holm has a reputation for being a slow starter and it’s imperative that Correia does whatever she can to get an early lead.
The fight is scheduled for five rounds and Holm has shown she finds her rhythm and pace as the fight goes on. Correia should look to put Holm at a deficit early and force her to take risks to make up the difference in the later rounds.
Correia should also look to crowd Holm and back her into the fence. “Pitbull” does her best when she’s able to cut off the cage and throw heavy shots as her opponent is backed into a corner. By comparison, Holm looks to use her long frame to keep opponents at a distance. The former champion prefers to keep opponents at the end of her jab and set up effective sidekicks when they try to close the distance.
Correia can negate the long reach of Holm by closing the distance but the key will be volume. She is not the more technical striker and puts herself at a disadvantage if she is too patient in the first round trying to counter Holm.
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Pitbull has proven she’s as tenacious as her pre-fight demeanour would suggest. The same abilities that got her to 9-0 are good as they’ve ever been. Tactically, she has all of the capabilities to pull off the upset. With her UFC future possibly on the line, she has all of the motivation necessary to put on the best performance of her career. The only question is will she give herself the best opportunity to pull it off?