Viviane Araujo

35-year-old UFC veteran Jennifer Maia enters the cage on Saturday following back-to-back wins. Those two wins brought her UFC record to 6-5, with 10 of her 11 total fights going the distance.

Viviane “Vivi” Araujo, one year older than Maia, has a 5-4 UFC record, with eight of her nine total fights also going the distance.

Betting Odds

Maia is a slight favorite over Araujo.

  • Jennifer Maia: -170 (BetUS)
  • Viviane Araujo: +130 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

Maia is a durable, aggressive, and well-schooled fighter who has struggled consistently with the same two aspects of MMA throughout her career. The positive aspects of Maia’s game are clear. She is a talented and skilled Muay Thai striker with thudding knees and slicing elbows, especially in the clinch against the cage. Her natural strength and durability aid her as she walks her opponent down and clinches against the cage as she lands consistent knees and elbows.

Maia also has a well-versed jiu-jitsu game with an arsenal of submission attacks. As evident by her one and only finish in the UFC, though, Maia rarely can implement her jiu-jitsu because her wrestling is non-existent. Even when Maia is dealing damage in a dominant position against the cage, she struggles significantly to get the fight to the mat, only averaging .2 takedown attempts per fight with a 21% success rate. At this point in her career, Maia’s BJJ is more of a defensive skillset, helping her survive poor positions, rather than an offensive one.

The other part of Maia’s game that has plagued her in the past is range striking. She tends to be a step slow on the feet and strikes with predictable combinations. Even in her last fight, where her boxing looked much improved, Maia continued to throw the same 1-2-6-4 combination over and over. The commentary team even mentioned that her opponent should be able to anticipate and counter. Maia, however, landed the combination over and over with a high rate of success. Her game is disconnected, limited range striking to initiate the clinch and minimal wrestling to get the fight down; however, if an opponent finds herself playing Maia’s game, Maia tends to find success.

Araujo, like Maia, has aspects of her game that allow her moments of domination. She is a powerful striker with a strong submission game and more reliable wrestling than her counterpart. However, what has plagued Araujo in the past, and will likely become more of an issue as she ages, is her cardio.

Araujo struggles in fights where opponents continue to walk forward and force a higher-paced fight. She excels in fights where intermittent power shots are exchanged or if she can get on top of her opponent on the canvas and dictate the pace in a grappling match. When she is forced into a faster dance that she isn’t leading, Araujo tends to fade late and lose decisions, even after winning the first round. When she is the one leading the dance, Araujo tends to land cracking strikes and follow them up with intelligently timed takedowns.

However, because of her questionable cardio, those moments of success tend to be after lulls of inactivity. Given she is now 36, even though her cardio looked slightly better in her last fight, an improved gas tank to the point of being able to push a consistent pace is likely not something Araujo will be able to accomplish.

Fight Prediction

This fight really comes down to whether or not Maia can get on the inside of Araujo consistently and force Araujo into a higher-paced pocket boxing match or an exhausting clinch fight without it ending up on the mat. If the fight stays at range and Araujo can keep Maia at bay, limiting her pace, Araujo should have the edge in striking and damage. Then, if Maia does get the clinch, if Araujo can get the fight to the mat, she should be able to hold Maia down while getting a much-needed break.

But, if Maia can push a pace, force Araujo to expel more energy on the feet early, and stay cautious in the clinch, Maia should beat up a tired opponent for 3 rounds. I really could see this one going either way and fully expect it to go the distance. Because I think the fight will be close and the judges will be involved, I like siding with the underdog value. Look for Araujo to win round 1 and Maia to win round 3, then it comes down to who can implement their game plan in round 2. I’ll take +money in a fight like that.

Best Bet: Araujo to win (+130)

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