Preview: UFC on ESPN 52 Prelims

Tate vs. Avila

The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday will return to Texas with an engaging undercard at the Moody Center in Austin. Women’s bantamweights lead the way with an important fight in the featured UFC on ESPN 52 prelim, where former champion Miesha Tate looks to gain some momentum against Julia Avila, who steps back into the cage after a long layoff. Meanwhile, Drakkar Klose takes on Joe Solecki in a battle of underrated lightweights, and a featherweight affair pitting Steve Garcia against Melquizael Costa looks like guaranteed excitement. Add in some interesting newcomers from Dana White’s Contender Series, and this looks like a strong start to December for the UFC.

Now to the preview for the UFC on ESPN 52 prelims:


Women’s Bantamweights

#13 WBW | Julia Avila (9-2, 3-1 UFC) vs. #12 WBW | Miesha Tate (19-9, 6-6 UFC)

ODDS: Avila (-155), Tate (+130)

The women’s bantamweight division is as wide open as ever, so this would be a nice spot for Tate or Avila to get a long-overdue win. Tate’s rivalry with Ronda Rousey was one of the big pioneering moments of women’s mixed martial arts; and while the feud itself was one-sided in Rousey’s favor, that made it all the sweeter when Tate was finally able to become champion with a win over Holly Holm in 2016. That also seemingly set her up for one more big-money fight against Rousey in a title defense, but instead, Tate surprisingly wound up retiring eight months later, losing her belt in one-sided fashion to Amanda Nunes and then calling it quits after a particularly flat performance against Raquel Pennington. The time was certainly right, particularly in retrospect, and it was nice to see Tate look rejuvenated when she made her return four and a half years later. Primarily a wrestler at her peak, Tate looked as sharp as ever as a striker in a complete performance over Marion Reneau in her comeback fight. However, it looks like that might have been an advantageous matchup against an opponent willing to let Tate take the initiative, as the former champ has not made much headway since. Ketlen Vieira’s constant pressure and activity essentially took Tate out of their fight, and a one-off cut down to flyweight against Lauren Murphy saw her lose a middling fight. Tate does not look shot, so it is hard to call her comeback a failure, but settling in as a Top 10 or so fighter is a bit disappointing given her star power and the division’s need for some promotional juice. Tate returns to 135 pounds against Avila, who makes her own long-awaited return. Thanks to pregnancy and an injury layoff, “Raging Panda” has been inactive during Tate’s entire comeback. Prior to the layoff, Avila was making a name for herself through sheer aggression, winning three of her four UFC bouts and finishing two of them, though her loss to Sijara Eubanks was a cause for concern. Her willingness to blitz forward left her open to Eubanks’ wrestling game, neutralizing a lot of Avila’s offense as she struggled to make her way to her feet. There is a decent chance that issue comes back to bite Avila again here. While Tate has not looked to wrestle as much as expected in her comeback, Avila’s willingness to crash into her opponents might force the former champion to do just that. Still, the read is that Avila can make Tate uncomfortable enough on the feet to put her in some bad spots, enough so to win rounds even if she absorbs a few takedowns in the process. The pick is Avila via decision.

Jump To »
Tate vs. Avila
Reese vs. Brundage
Klose vs. Solecki
Costa vs. Garcia
Bellato vs. Potieria
Turman vs. Gooden
Hardy vs. Horth


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Johan Ghazali