The Great Debate: VanZant vs Waterson

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Zak Katine and Justin Peck give their thoughts on who will win the Strawweight Bout between Michelle Waterson and Paige VanZant on Saturday night at UFC FOX Fight Night in Sacramento.

Why Michelle Waterson will Win

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Written by Zak Katine

Honestly, this is a fight for PVZ to showcase her skills. She is the bigger and stronger fighter here. She’s tough as nails, doesn’t quit, and pushes a high pace. This is her second main event fight for the UFC on Fox and, to say the least, this is a big stage. This is supposed to get her an even bigger fan base to push her, but I don’t think she wins.

In the striking department, PVZ is very raw and gets hit a lot. Waterson is fun to watch on the feet, and is superior there, but her grappling is very underrated. PVZ may have the wrestling advantage, but on the mat I believe Waterson is better. Waterson is a veteran to the sport and super tough and durable. PVZ has the reach advantage here, but I don’t believe her fight IQ is that great yet. She’ll more than likely get in a distance where Waterson can actually hit her.

I see the fight going exactly like this; PVZ uses her size and strength to win the first 2 rounds but then she’ll start to fade as the Karate Hottie starts getting her timing down. Michelle picks her apart until she catches her in the 4th round with a submission.

Prediction: Michelle Waterson wins by Submission

Why Paige VanZant will Win

Written by Justin Peck

On Saturday night, we’ll be in for a treat as “12-Gauge” Paige VanZant (7-2) steps into the octagon to face “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson (13-4). VanZant in coming off of an impressive knockout victory over Bec Rawlings and Waterson finished Angela Magana by submission in her last fight.

Waterson is the more polished striker of the two, but will still be up for a challenge against PVZ. Waterson will be returning to the cage for the first time since mid-2015 as she has been dealing with an injury. Most fighters will take a few rounds to knock the rust off after a lengthy absence. It is unlikely that Waterson will have this luxury as VanZant is an aggressive fighter.

VanZant can also be a patient fighter. In her fight against Rawlings, which ended with a switch kick, Paige did a great job setting the kick up in the first round before finally landing it later. If the fight remains standing, look for VanZant to try to duplicate this success to potentially open the door for a big shot later in the fight.

Waterson has a better ground game when it comes to submissions, but VanZant has the heart of a lion. (Just ask Rose Namajunas how hard it was to put her away). VanZant will have the overall advantage grappling. She has size and strength on Waterson and should be able to control the clinch if she gets in trouble. I don’t think they’ll spend too much time pressed against the cage, but if they do, expect VanZant to win that battle.

I expect to see this fight go the distance. Both girls have excellent cardio and this should be a fun fight to watch. Waterson can steal a few rounds by securing takedowns, so VanZant will need to remain aware of the possibility. I expect VanZant to control the tempo and land punches at a higher rate than Waterson. I expect a close fight, ultimately coming down to VanZant landing the harder punches.

Prediction: Paige VanZant wins by Decision.

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