Natalia Silva defeated Victoria Leonardo with a head kick (Zuffa LLC)

UFC 292 takes place in Boston this Saturday, headlined by Aljamain Sterling and Sean O’Malley but carries a number of great fights flying under the radar. One of which that’s surely to be a violent affair takes place on the prelims in the Women’s Flyweight division between Andrea Lee and Natalia Silva.

Andrea ‘KGB’ Lee is currently on a two-fight losing streak, but debatably won her last bout against Maycee Barber and dropped Viviane Araujo in the first before going on to lose by decision.

Natalia Silva will come into this one holding a nine-fight win streak, finishing eight of those nine. Both women are high-level strikers, and I’m hoping for a technical striking battle for 15 minutes or less.

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Betting Odds

Natalia Silva is the heavy favorite, and her recent success certainly backs that up, but Andrea Lee is a tough, well-rounded fighter that could steal this one

  • Andrea Lee: +255 (BetUS)
  • Natalia Silva: -345 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

Andrea Lee is coming off a tough split decision loss that was highly disputed amongst analysts as to who won. Lee, 34 years old, is 13-7 overall and an even 5-5 since joining the UFC. She’s an aggressive, technical striker with the capability to take the fight to the ground if needed.

Andrea’s best attribute is her striking. She likes to time her combos off her opponent’s jab or straight shots where she can dip off the centerline and fire two or three shots of her own. She has excellent footwork during her combinations coming forward, often chaining strikes together fluidly as she shifts stances. When throwing combos, she very rarely throws the same thing twice and is very good at picking her shots and adjusting her offense to the range she’s at. She has power in her hands as well as her kicks; she likes to utilize these kicks to the body while occasionally targeting the leg and head. As she begins to fatigue as the fight goes on, her head movement begins to dissipate and she has relied more on kicks than her boxing.

Her ground game, though not elite, has seemed to surprise some of her opponents in the octagon thus far. She racked up five takedowns and over five minutes of control time against Maycee Barber in her last fight and averages just over two takedowns per 15 minutes since joining the UFC. She has good top control and pressure when on top, but from the bottom, there are times where she gets caught in poor positions. She’s had success in returning to her feet and defending submissions but she’s gotten caught deep in submission attempts a few times.

One other area I find concerning for Lee is her pace and motor. Her striking pace is impressive and when she is the one on top in the grappling exchanges, she’s shown to be capable of conserving enough energy to go 15 minutes. When her opponent matches her intensity on the feet or she’s on her back however, she begins to fatigue which makes taking her down much easier. I think slowing the pace on the feet to account for inevitable grappling scenarios would help her with this; when her opponent comes forward with strikes, Lee almost always engages with a combo of her own. Though this ensures she isn’t getting behind in the striking numbers, it may benefit her to use her footwork and timing to pop out of range of shots and gain a better angle from time to time to give herself a breather during the fight instead of relying on the breaks between rounds to get her wind back.

She faces the red-hot striker, Natalia Silva. Silva is only 26 years old and during her current nine-fight win streak, she’s accumulated eight finishes. Though this stretch included six wins by submission (five of them by armbar), Silva’s found most of her recent success on the feet, ending her last two by knockout.

Silva’s a striker with extremely quick hands and explosive kicks. Similar to her opponent, she likes to time her combos off the first strike of her opponent, often leading with the left jab or hook, followed by the right cross and another left hand. Her main kick of choice is the head kick with her lead left leg. Her kicks don’t have much in the way of telegraphs and carry good power even as a lead leg head kick and she’ll throw them as a single technique or chained onto the end of her combos.

She doesn’t move her head as much as you’d like and she stays very upright like many Muay Thai trained fighters tend to do. Her hands stay low for most of the fight so she seems comfortable that she’ll see her opponent’s strikes and be able to move out of range with her quick footwork.

Silva’s grappling game is where I get worried about her breaking into the top of the flyweight division. She has impressive throws from the body lock and has shown to be capable of reversing takedown attempts in the clinches to land her own, but she doesn’t look super powerful when digging for underhooks to neutralize takedown attempts at the hips. She must be confident in her grappling as when she’s forced into these scenarios, she obliges much too often for a fighter with her striking pedigree; I’d like to see her be more willing to take the exit when they’re presented so she can continue working at distance.

When she’s taken down, it’s more sweep attempts that, in fairness, were effective against a high level wrestler like Tereza Bleda before she stopped her in the second. This predictability in these grappling scenarios give her opponents something to drill if their game plan is to take her down (which it should be).

Andrea Lee will be a big test for Silva as she hasn’t faced someone with as good of striking as Lee yet. Lee’s physical strength in the clinch has given her opponents trouble in the past and I believe she could get the better of these scenarios if she chooses to look for takedowns. She uses a lot of straight shots on the feet as well that could find the mark before the lead hook of Silva, and her volume will surely match that of Natalia in these scenarios..

Silva will need to push the pace and use her footwork to get out of range of Lee. Her kicks usually go to the head but given the high guard that Lee likes to keep, I think Silva will find a lot of success finishing her combinations with the lead leg round kick to the body. This will open up her offense to the head, especially for her hands. I’m worried that if the fight is made into a grinding, wrestling-heavy affair that she’ll get caught up in trying to get the better of her opponent and end up either on her back or caught in a submission attempt from Lee, but these exchanges often leave Lee exhausted and we’ve seen Silva stay fresh going into the third after spending the better part of the fight wrestling Bleda.


This matchup feels closer than the odds show. Though I believe Silva to be the faster striker, Lee has clean striking of her own and, with a four-inch reach advantage, can be effective at keeping her range and landing her long shots in bunches. Lee’s shown to be stronger than most Flyweights as well in the clinch and is a well-versed grappler so she may have the opportunity to rack up ground control time with her wrestling as long as she can avoid the submission attempts from Silva.

Although the striking of Lee is capable of keeping pace early in the fight, Silva’s pace and pressure of her own gives her the advantage over the course of three rounds as long as Lee isn’t able to take breaks from top control. Silva is the sharper striker and with Lee’s willingness to engage in striking affairs, I see Silva getting the better of Lee as the fight progresses. Silva has finished her last two opponents by knockout but Lee is more resilient than the average flyweight and has never been knocked out in 20 pro fights so a finish is far less likely this weekend. The last six fights in the women’s divisions have ended inside the distance but I like that trend to break here.

  • Prediction: Natalia Silva by decision +120 (BetUS)
  • Best Bet: Over 2.5R -210 (BetUS)

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