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The UFC on ESPN 23 prelims do not offer much in terms of relevance, but they should still provide some entertainment value on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Randa Markos welcomes Luana Pinheiro to the Octagon in the featured spot, but beyond their strawweight pairing, the undercard figures to serve primarily as a proving ground for competitors still looking to prove themselves at the Ultimate Fighting Championship level. Thankfully, the prelims are loaded with fights from the featherweight and strawweight divisions—two consistently fun weight classes—so the action should remain intriguing throughout.
Now to the preview for the UFC on ESPN 23 prelims:
Women’s StrawweightsNR | Luana Pinheiro (8-1, 0-0 UFC) vs. NR | Randa Markos (10-10-1, 6-9-1 UFC)
ODDS: Pinheiro (-170), Markos (+150)
Markos might be the most inconsistent fighter on the UFC roster. She made her name with a stunning run to the Final Four on the all-strawweight season of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2014 and probably would have earned a title shot had she beaten Jessica Penna in a close fight at “The Ultimate Fighter 20” Finale. That wound up being the closest that “Quiet Storm” would get to the UFC championship. She has put together some impressive performances over the years—her 2017 win over Carla Esparza stands out—but the fact that she alternated wins and losses in her first eight UFC appearances just about says it all. There has been no real rhyme or reason to what winds up clicking for Markos from fight to fight, and now her inconsistency even takes place from round to round. Her win-loss streak was interrupted by a draw against Marina Rodriguez, which saw Markos dominate the first round with her wrestling only to abandon that approach and lose the last two rounds. Markos has been able to keep her head above water as a gatekeeper, but there is some worry that her last loss to Kanako Murata—her third straight—marks this as the point of diminishing returns. That makes a win here against a newcomer in Pinheiro quite crucial. Brazil’s Pinheiro has some obvious skill owing to her background as a judoka, but she is firmly on the unproven side of the ledger as a prospect. Her career has mostly seen her score first-round finishes over athletically overmatched opponents. Markos is far from reliable and has suffered some early submission losses, but she has typically been able to survive beyond the first round, at which point Pinheiro is just as much of a question mark. The call is that Markos outlasts Pinheiro for the decision victory.
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