“The Queen of Violence” Ariane Lipski returns to the UFC octagon this weekend when she meets fellow Brazilian Melissa Gatto. Lipski the former KSW Flyweight champion last defeated JJ Aldrich by unanimous decision in March.
While Lipski looks to make it two in a row, Gatto, who stands in her way will be fighting back from her first career loss. Having gone 10 fights undefeated in her pro career, her momentum was halted last May by Tracy Cortez via decision, to bring her to 10-1 pro and 2-1 in the UFC.
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Gatto comes into the fight as the betting favorite at -232.
Melissa Gatto is a long rangy fighter with whip-like punching combinations. She has slick offensive boxing, and readily charges forward because she has so much confidence in her guard if she is taken down. This allows her to more than often control the center of the octagon and pressure her opponents to the fence, where she can shoot and initiate a clinch on her terms. One of the specific ways she will shoot is by using a wide left hook and setting up her opponent to lean away from the shot, exposing the hips, and allowing her to get in deep. Instead of chasing the takedown from here though, she is more likely to swivel and sell out to get to the back in order to drag her opponent down and secure hooks. She is very dangerous off of her back with both chokes but also is quick to jump the armbar if her opponents turns into her.
Her lack of fear of the takedown again causes her to charge in at times, and only one fighter has been able to capitalize on this by taking her down, stopping her submission attempts and earning the win with control. Gatto’s style is a double edged sword because she is happy to take risks or put herself in the ‘losing’ position because she believes she will get the finish at some point.
Ariane Lipski is technically not the level of grappler that Gatto is but her gameplan should not include engaging where she doesn’t need to. Although Gatto’s reach may make it difficult to find her way offensively, Lipski does have the sharper striking in terms of getting her punches from A to B without those wide looping swings. She has slick kicks as well, and overall more educated kickboxing. Where the difference is most pronounced however is in her clinch. In order to win, Lipski should do everything she can and take every opportunity to punch Gatto for clinching with her, Lipski has great defense and tends to find the knees to the body and elbows in every clinch exchange. She is also very good at throwing combinations in the pocket in order to counter her opponents’ single shots.
Lipski’s biggest hole in her game is where Gatto shines the most. Lipski has tremendous takedown defense and scary ability to punish her opponents for trying, but when they do get her down she often lacks a plan B. She can get stuck on her back unable to sweep or find a way to her feet. Likewise when she is on top, if she lands inside the guard she is often stuck there as well unable to open or pass. If she finishes a scramble in half guard, she is much more likely to find her way into side control or mount much easier, and she does do a good job of forcing her opponents into awkward and unusual positions, but against a grappler the next level up like Gatto this will be exponentially more difficult than it has been previously.
In terms of style, arguably both match up very well with each other. Gatto’s biggest holes in her game have been charging in with very high punching which leaves her open to takedowns or clinch strikes, the latter being a specialty of Lipski.
Lipski is extremely game and durable in any position, even if she does end up in top position, she could very well maintain a level of safety even if she is unable to get off any significant offense, likewise on the bottom, while she may not have the ability to fight her way back to her feet or sweep, there is a good likelihood she avoids the submission threat and scrambles enough to negate the ground and pound.
Therefore the best bet would be the fight to go the distance, however, no major betting sites provide this option. Instead, go with fight to go over 2.5 rounds at -150, a safer bet than Lipski to win at +176 but a better value and payout than Gatto at -232.
Prediction: Fight to go over 2.5 rounds (-150)