Diana “Warrior Princess” Belbita, 25, has amassed a 14-6 professional record in mixed martial arts. In the UFC, she is 1-2 with a decision win. De Paula, 26, is 5-4 overall and is winless in the UFC after earning a contract through Dana White’s Contender Series.
Currently, the odds are deadlocked at a pick ’em.
- Belbita: -115
- De Paula: -115
Belbita began her UFC career as a flyweight, lost to two respectable fighters, moved down to strawweight, and earned her first UFC victory. Primarily a grinder, Belbita looks to pump her jab out often, push a high volume, and clinch against the cage. She has some heat on the end of her strikes; but, the majority of her striking game is rooted in overwhelming her opponent with volume. In the clinch, Belbita wants to hold position, rack up control time, and drain her opponent’s gas tank. The move down a weight class allows her to have the size advantage necessary for this approach. However, if the fight does hit the mat, Belbita struggles to get up and defend submissions. On the feet, Belbita is defensively flawed and often lacks mobility. Said another way, she absorbs a dangerous amount of strikes while landing her high volume.
Someone, despite a poor UFC record thus far, you don’t want to hit you clean, is de Paula. De Paula is big, strong, fast, and has pop on the end of her strikes. She mixes in a variety of punches and kicks, all of which come quickly and land heavily. Because de Paula throws with power, she sacrifices volume and can put herself in bad positions when she misses big. On the mat, De Paula accepts a poor position while looking for submissions. On the feet and on the mat, De Paula is dangerous, but if she can’t land an emphatic shot or snatch a sub, she can be outstruck on the feet and controlled on the ground. Ultimately, De Paula has the skillset to be a solid UFC fighter with some potential. However, her reluctance to evolve beyond a big striker with low volume might cost her another fight.
In lower-level women’s MMA, size makes a big difference. Since moving down to 115, Belbita has a significant size advantage. In theory, this should help her overpower her opponent offensively and give her an edge in defensive grappling. However, in her 115 debut, we saw an average wrestler, Goldy, take and hold down Belbita. I don’t think her size advantage is enough to overcome her ground gap and poor defense. De Paula has burned me before, but I still like the bones of her game and believe she can grow into the fighter we anticipated her to be dangerous on the feet and sneaky on the mat.
Prediction: De Paula to win
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.