Claudia Gadelha has scored eight stoppages in starting her career 11-0. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Claudia Gadelha and Tina Lahdemaki are about to break some barriers in the Octagon.
Gadelha and Lahdemaki will collide at UFC Fight Night “Cerrone vs. Miller” on Wednesday at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., as they put their unblemished records on the line and compete in the first women’s strawweight bout in Ultimate Fighting Championship history. The two 115-pound prospects will trigger the event at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT on UFC Fight Pass.
A three-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion as a brown belt, Gadelha now holds the rank of black belt under Nova Uniao founder Andre Pederneiras. Undefeated in 11 professional appearances, the 25-year-old Brazilian has not fought since she made her Invicta Fighting Championships debut a little more than a year ago, stopping Akaya Hamasaki on third-round punches. While still a work in progress, her serviceable standup often allows her to punch into clinch range, where she can better execute takedowns and utilize her punishing and polished top game. Gadelha has finished eight of her first 11 foes, seven of them inside one round.
Lahdemaki went 6-0 as an amateur and has not missed a beat since turning pro. The 26-year-old last appeared at Cage 23 in November, when she choked Karla Benitez unconscious with a first-round arm-triangle in her native Finland. Lahdemaki operates out of the RNC Sports Club and has spent the majority of her MMA career competing at 125 pounds. She will join Tom Niinimaki as the only two Finnish fighters on the UFC roster.
With the landmark Gadelha-Lahdemaki matchup set to kick off “UFC Fight Night” Cerrone vs. Miller,” here is what to watch for in Atlantic City:
The UFC Fight Night main event between Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller appears to have all the necessary ingredients for a “Fight of the Year” contender, as the two lightweights have for years proven to be among the promotion’s most consistently entertaining fighters.
Cerrone was a five-time “Fight of the Night” winner in World Extreme Cagefighting before transitioning to the UFC, where he has since banked three more “Fight of the Night” bonuses. A deft submission fighter and accomplished kickboxer, the “Cowboy” has shown a willingness to brawl when the situation calls for it. He will climb into the cage on the strength of three consecutive finishes against Evan Dunham, Adriano Martins and Edson Barboza.
Miller has been a model of consistency since arriving in the UFC nearly six years ago. The 30-year-old AMA Fight Club representative has engaged in memorable scraps with Matt Wiman and Joe Lauzon, all while cementing his place as a top-shelf lightweight inside the Octagon. Miller’s only four defeats have come against fighters who have either won or fought for UFC gold: Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz.
Pat Healy remains winless inside the Octagon.
The well-traveled 30-year-old Strikeforce veteran will try and halt a three-fight losing streak when he confronts Gleison Tibau in a lightweight showcase. Healy owns a 0-4 mark in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, his submission victory over Miller at UFC 159 having been erased by a positive drug test. He has since suffered consecutive losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Bobby Green and Jorge Masvidal, perhaps putting his spot on the UFC roster in jeopardy.
In Tibau, Healy faces a brute of a lightweight. The American Top Team-trained Brazilian has secured more takedowns (71) than any other active fighter in the UFC, according to FightMetric. More importantly, he wields the best takedown defense in the history of the 155-pound division, having thwarted 91.8 percent of the attempts made against him. Can he utilize those skills against Healy, a former Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder who relies heavily on takedowns and a grinding clinch game?
SCALING THE MOUNTAIN
Talent has never been a question with John Lineker. The same cannot be said for commitment and discipline.
The heavy-handed Brazilian flyweight has long been viewed as a potential threat to the reign of 125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson, but his inability to master the scale has proven problematic. Lineker has missed weight three times in his six UFC appearances, leading many to question his future in the division. Inside the cage, Lineker has earned a reputation as a savage body puncher with a nose for the finish. Still only 24, he has won 17 of his past 19 bouts.
His latest challenge comes in the form of Alptekin Ozkilic, a decorated amateur wrestler who was a Greco-Roman national champion in his native Turkey. The 28-year-old will likely look to crowd and perhaps wear down Lineker in close quarters.
Aljamain Sterling has all the tools to become a person of interest in the UFC’s bantamweight division.
The Serra-Longo Fight Team representative has started his professional career a perfect 9-0, including a unanimous decision victory over Cody Gibson in his promotional debut at UFC 170 in February. Sterling was a two-time NCAA Div. III All-American at SUNY Cortland, where he was 87-27 with 26 falls during his three-year career, finishing fourth at the NCAA wrestling championships at 133 pounds as a junior and sixth at 141 pounds as a senior. He only figures to improve under the tutelage of former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra and striking coach Ray Longo, the two men who gave rise to reigning 185-pound boss Chris Weidman.
Sterling will have his hands full with Hugo Viana, a nimble-footed Brazilian with quick hands. A black belt in tae kwon do, the “Wolverine” was a semifinalist on Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.”