Fighters from around the globe dream of the day they’ll step into the UFC octagon for the first time. For four athletes, Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 22 event marked that special moment in their career.
Check out this week’s rookie report to see what kind of first impression those fighters made on the sport’s biggest stage from Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo.
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Tracy Cortez and Vanessa Melo
Division: Women’s bantamweight
Result: Tracy Cortez def. Vanessa Melo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Record: (7-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
When it comes to heartbreaking backstories and a fighting spirit forged through struggle, Tracy Cortez can’t be ignored. As she proved on her entry into the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series, she’s willing to scrap under any circumstances, traveling to Brazil to compete on foreign soil in her UFC debut and even moving up 10 pounds so she could get on the card.
On the feet, Cortez shows real promise with her striking, flashing impressive power and accuracy with her boxing against Vanessa Melo. The downside in that range was that she was available to be countered in those exchanges, in the old “take one to give one” approach doesn’t generally lead to long UFC tenures, so she’ll want to dial the in a bit. Still, her willingness to engage was certainly entertaining.
Cortez also shows a willingness to turn to the grappling when needed, spending nearly the entirety of a round of this fight in a controlling position in the clinch. While that doesn’t entertain as much as the striking, I see promise in a fighter willing to be disciplined to a gameplan when it’s effective.
Overall, I think a move back down to 125 pounds may be the right move for Cortez, and there are some defensive tactics that need to be tweaked, but it seems some promising days are ahead for this newcomer.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC on ESPN+ 22 rookie report: Grading the newcomers in Sao Paulo