Compared to the many other sports that there are in the world, mixed martial arts is one of the youngest.
For the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) specifically, the worldwide leader in MMA just recently celebrated 25-years of existence in November 2018. And as we watch the sport grow before our very eyes, we see all the different possibilities that can and have become realities.
Just looking back ten years ago, options were quite limited for the athletes that were taking part in the sport that was once viewed as human cockfighting. Meaning that if a fighter wasn’t in the UFC, then they were most likely struggling to make a decent living and the UFC was their only goal when it came to where they wanted to be.
Of course, this isn’t to pretend that organizations like WEC and Strikeforce didn’t exist at the time with Bellator just coming onto the scene along with PRIDE FC a few years prior. Ultimately, they weren’t viewed as the end all be all.
However, fast forward 10 years and fighters now have plenty of different options that they can make their careers in.
Bellator has now firmly established themselves as the clear No. 2 promotion in North America with the likes of the Professional Fighters League hot on their tails. Invicta FC is the premier organization for female fighters, and overseas in Asia, there is ONE Championship and RIZIN FF.
As for Europe, the Poland based promotion of KSW is one of the clear top dogs that isn’t quite as popular in North America as some of the others listed but are doing just fine in their respective part of the world.
With many of the big stars that KSW has been able to produce on their own, one of the bigger ones has been one of the top worldwide flyweights, Brazil’s Ariane Lipski.
“I love fighting so I always train very hard to put on a show,” Lipski told The Body Lock. “When I enter in the cage it feels like I can show everything that I am. Fighting is my art, the way I can express myself and the thing that just goes naturally.”
Out of Ariane Lipski’s nine consecutive wins, seven of them have come via finish (five KO/TKOs, two submissions).
Possessing arguably the best highlight reel of any fighter at flyweight, Lipski has become constant entertainment as she is predominantly a striker who has the ability to fight on the ground if necessary. She has the perfect blend of Muay Thai and BJJ that much more often than not has resulted in messy outcomes for her opposition. All things considered, in a way, Lipski could be described as MMA’s Jackson Pollock.
With the all-time great in Cris Cyborg as one of her inspirations, it makes sense that the flyweight’s fighting style at times resembles that of her fellow Brazilian’s.
— Follow @CrisCyborg on IG #CWB (@criscyborg) January 10, 2019
Despite being much more unknown in North America compared to Brazil and Europe, Ariane Lipski has definitely caught the eyes of those who have been paying attention to her division. And having been able to grow at such a young age and establish herself in KSW as one of the best already without being in the UFC, who knows what her ceiling could be.
Once one of the bigger myths due to the lack of promotional options outside of the UFC, the infamous ‘UFC jitters’ have seemingly become somewhat of a non-factor in recent years. Because of this, the multiple opportunities for experience to be gained in heavier pressure situations is priceless.
In Lipski’s case, she has already fought in some of the biggest events that MMA has to offer with high stakes on the line.
“I am sure about it,” Lipski said in regards to whether or not she could handle a big show atmosphere in the UFC. “I feel very prepared for it, I trust my experience, I fought great athletes like Sheila Gaff, I won a world title, I defended it twice, I fought at a soccer stadium for 58,000 people and I fought five rounds my last fight which was great because besides being explosive, I’m also a resistant fighter. The experience KSW gave me makes me feel very confident that I am ready to face any challenge inside the UFC.”
That first challenge for the Brazilian will come at UFC Fight Night 143 in Brooklyn this Saturday night. Lipski will be making her UFC debut in one of, if not the absolute best stylistic matchup to produce violence and entertainment when she takes on Joanne Calderwood.
However, this wasn’t supposed to be the Violence Queen’s first fight chance to showcase her skills in her new fighting home.
Originally, Lipski was set to take on Maryna Moroz in place of Veronica Macedo at UFC Argentina in November 2018. Unfortunately, Moroz would suffer a broken foot that forced her out of the fight.
Although she has had to wait a bit longer to return to action, the former KSW champion now gets a much higher profile and a potentially exciting matchup against a UFC ranked top 15 opponent.
“At first, I got frustrated because I haven’t fought for a while so I am very motivated to get in there and do what I love,” Lipski said of the Moroz fight cancelation. “But when I heard about the new date and my new opponent I felt really excited with the opportunity to debut against a ranked opponent in such a big card. I am really motivated.”
Fighting on big cards is obviously nothing new for her, and the timing has lined up absolutely perfectly for Ariane Lipski in her UFC debut as she’ll be competing on one again.
2019 will act as the first year that the UFC will be aired on ESPN and UFC Brooklyn will be the very first show to kick off the era as it airs on ESPN+.
But for Lipski, her and Calderwood will battle it out on the preliminary portion of the card which airs on the actual ESPN channel. Thus providing her with the chance to get a great amount of new exposure to a new fanbase. Something that is also surely a strong motivation on top of all the many she already has.
Having trained with the legendary Cris Cyborg in her final week of preparation, Lipski pulled out all the stops prior to that as well by training the latter part of her camp with the highly touted gym that is Kings MMA ran by Rafael Cordeiro.
“I did most of my camp in Curitiba with my head coach Renato Rasta,” Lipski said. “We decided to finish the camp in the US for several reasons and one of them was to train in Kings MMA. Rafael Cordeiro is my trainer’s master and I can also spar with Sabina Mazo [who] is a great athlete and has a similar game to Calderwood. Finishing the camp now I am sure we made the best decision. It is an honor to train with Master Rafael Cordeiro and training is just great for this fight.”
Preparation for a single fight is a requirement that comes with each and every time out. Each new hurdle leads to many changes and adjustments that could need making.
Often times, we will hear fighters say that every next fight is treated as the biggest fight of the fighter’s career. Especially as they work their way up from the very beginning. But being able to do so in settings that offer higher bars than say what one may have had to work with years ago, it’s only a testament to the evolution of the sport and its fighters.
In essence, by already racking up the championship caliber experience in one of the bigger MMA promotions in the world, it has just added to Lipski’s overall preparation for the top of the mountain and that’s exactly where she envisions herself one day.
“Right now I am 100 percent focused on my next fight but our main goal is the belt,” Lipski stated. “Being a new weight class [in the UFC], I believe three wins can give me a title shot and I will do everything I can to get there.”
On January 19, the Violence Queen cometh to the UFC. Ariane Lipski will make her very first walk to the Octagon and she will get another chance to keep on showing the world why she is labeled as a champion and one of the best in the world.
Having already produced a great career, the inevitable time has come to start another.
Drake Riggs is an MMA writer who specializes in feature pieces, the women's fight scene, lists, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake also currently writes for BJPenn.com, Fansided MMA, Cageside Press, and is a former contributor to Sherdog and MMA Today. He is also a die-hard fan of the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.