Felice Herrig and Paige VanZant each had only one UFC bout on their respective resumes heading into Saturday night’s UFC on FOX 15 main card opener, but each entered the fight from distinctly different angles.
Herrig is nearly ten years older than VanZant, has triple the experience, and, on paper, should held all the advantages coming into the fight. VanZant, however, has garnered more than her fair share of attention since her Octagon debut in November. Many detractors, including Herrig, said that was due more to VanZant being attractive than her being a good fighter.
She now might want to rethink that idea.
As much of an experience advantage as Herrig had, it wasn’t enough to overcome the overwhelming attack of VanZant.
Herrig started strong, immediately taking the center of the Octagon, looking to punch her way through VanZant. The youngster immediately turned the tables, clinching and tossing Herrig to the canvas.
The first round was probably Herrig’s best, however, as she quickly moved to VanZant’s back and attacked with a rear naked choke and then a couple other submissions. VanZant wouldn’t be had on the ground and they worked they’re way back to standing, where VanZant used a strategy that worked for her all night: she clinched, peppered Herrig with several knees, and then put her back on the mat.
The second frame was where VanZant really started to pull away in the fight. She continued to go to the clinch and do damage to the body, wearing Herrig down, and then putting her on the mat. Each time they went down, VanZant would become more dominant, mounting damage with her relentless ground and pound.
The final round was all VanZant as she took Herrig down and pummeled her for the duration.
When the final horn sounded, there was no question who won, as a teary-eyed VanZant stood and threw her hands in the air.
“I started crying before the fight was even over. Very emotional,” she said immediately after the fight.
Although she was confident coming into the fight, it was a milestone in the 21-year-old’s career.
“I can’t believe I beat Felice Herrig; she was one of my idols. This is huge.”