Chicago, Illinois; a city known for great sports, Kanye and Obama. This weekend though, it will host a main card dominated by women’s bouts with compelling story lines.
There will be more fireworks than a usual, gun-shot filled weekend in Chicago on Saturday when UFC on Fox 20 (or UFC Chicago: Holm v Shevchenko) kicks off at 4 p.m. on Fight Pass and 6 p.m. on FS1.
Simon will have more on Holm vs Shevchenko this week, in what will likely be an explosive match-up (Shevchenko has a pistol tattoo on her hip for god’s sake), so let’s focus on Kailin Curran v Felice Herrig in the women’s strawweight division.
There isn’t much to dislike about Herrig; she’s a fun-loving, former kickboxing pro, American Ninja Warrior and heck, she even wall-twerked with Carla Esparza on her Instagram.
In terms of athleticism, she’s a machine, ‘Lil Bulldog’ is a highly-decorated kickboxing/muay-thai champ, with multiple international championships (23-5). With a 9-5 MMA record, she entered TUF 20 in 2013, and was the sixth pick by coach Anthony Pettis.
Despite losing to Randa Markos in the quarters, she bounced back winning via second-round armbar against Lisa Ellis on the TUF Finale.
Her last appearance (also UFC on FOX) was on the Machida/Rockhold card, where she lost a three-round decision against Paige Northcutt, I mean, Vanzant.
As she revealed on UFC’s ‘Road to the Octagon’, Herrig was drained before that fight. So much so that she tears up just talking about it. But now, she is more than ready to get back into it after a year off. See what I mean in the video below:
Kailin Curran is no stranger to Fight Nights, having fought on three of them in the last 20 months. Her UFC debut was a TKO by none other than Vanzant (Fight of the Night), so she and Herrig have that loss in common.
She would then lose via third-round armbar to Alex Chambers six months later, only to submit Emily Kagan exactly seven months after that.
Curran has an interesting past, having fought in Guam under Pacific Extreme Combat where she went 3-0 (all by unanimous decision) before joining the UFC.
However, with neither currently in the top 15 of the UFC Women’s Strawweight rankings this is going to be huge for both fighters.
Neither have fought in the UFC/MMA in over seven months, and for both to return in front of a big crowd, is well…a big deal. Not only do they open the main card but they do so on UFC on FOX, which means the potential to gain a lot of notoriety/fans with such a large audience.
Add in the fact that they are on a female-headlined card, featuring none other than America’s sweetheart Holly Holm and this makes it more huge for them. Additionally, if we are being honest with ourselves, UFC in Chicago is a much bigger draw than let’s say…the disappointment that was UFC: Sioux Falls.
Neither is a stranger to going the distance; just four of Herrig’s 16 fights have failed to go the full three rounds, while just one of Curran’s six fights lasted less than 15 minutes. That one being her most recent rear-naked victory.
Curran is a high-volume striker compared to Herrig (3.68 strikes landed/minute to Herrig’s 1.56) but I don’t see this being a determining factor.
Based on Felice’s experience and tenacity, I’ll take her to win via split decision 29-28. Both fighters have far too much athleticism and stamina (along with plenty on the line in this fight) to be caught early.