Lucie Pudilova first entered the UFC in 2017 with a promising 6-1 record, only to drop five of her six UFC outings. On the road to rebuild in 2020, Pudilova picked off five of her next six outside of the octagon to earn a second run in the promotion. Fighting out of her native Czech Republic, a win over Wu Yanan at UFC 278 would catapult Lucie instantly into success she wasn’t able to grasp in her first UFC run.
For Wu Yanan, it is also a must-win fight after losing to Mayra Bueno Silva this past April. This brings her to three fights in a row, losing the nod after last beating Lauren Mueller in 2018. Both women have extremely high stakes on the line, with their backs against the wall. Four losses in a row is a difficult gamble for any fighter in the UFC, and few get a second shot once they’ve left the promotion already.
Both women will come to win, which often results in some of the most exciting fights.
While the odds are relatively close, those who wager $100 on Wu to win could return a profit of $128 if she wins.
Wu Yanan’s style is built on a Sanda background in her native China. Staple to the martial art, she has very good mobility and a wide variety of striking techniques in her tool box. She is very light on her toes and constantly moving around, rarely if ever planting her stance in place. When she is the one pushing forward her success rate improves dramatically, as her shots tend to be very accurate. On the backfoot however, she has had difficulty.
The biggest factor in this fight I believe will be distance management. Both women have a good reach, Pudilova with an extra 1.5 inches. Wu Yanan has shown a neglect to utilize the full extent of her range in the past, but she will have a kicking advantage, especially her lead leg side kick which is essentially as long a weapon as you can utilize in MMA. Pudilova, on the other side, has become a master of distance, particularly in the boxing department. Whether it’s a hook, straight or overhand, she lands on the edge of her reach, tagging her opponent while being able to shift just slightly in order to evade counters. She stands heavy on the lead leg and hunches forward to allow her that space to lean away, so Wu’s kicking game should also be committed to chipping away at the thigh.
However another strength of Pudilova is her ability to constantly pour on pressure even when she is not engaging. She is constantly pushing forward, just to take a step back, but fainting all the way to keep her opponents wary of entering themselves. This doesn’t bode well for Wu who wants to be the one on the front foot, and it also takes away some of the confidence in kicking often, as kicking backwards is obviously one of the most difficult striking tactics.
This will most likely be a striking affair, but should one look to secure a takedown to secure a round or disrupt their opponents gaining momentum, Wu Yanan should have the grappling advantage. She has five submissions to Pudilova two, and one at the UFC level. Both women have very good takedowns, Pudilova has a strong double leg in particular, however in terms of maintaining top position this also goes to Wu. The one knock on Wu is she does tend to put herself in submission danger often, due to a potential lack of submission awareness, but has been so far able to defend each one from arguably very close calls.
Ultimately I don’t see the fight going to the ground much if at all. On the feet, Wu needs to really utilize her kicking game as much as possible but at the end of the day, range and pressure will win this fight. Both women want to be the one moving forward and both women need to keep the fight at a distance where the other isn’t comfortable.
I think that Pudilova does both of these things better and so we will likely see her slowly but constantly being the one pressuring and picking Wu apart with boxing combinations from the outside.
Prediction: Lucie Pudilova to win (-163 odds at MyBookie)
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.