UFC Fight Night 201 will feature an exciting bout between two of the most promising women in the bantamweight division. Aussie fighter Jessica-Rose Clark has been on an impressive two-fight win streak, which she intends to extend to three this Saturday. Showing immense improvements in her grappling and overall game onto an already impressive kickboxing style, she looks to be a name stamped into the minds of MMA fans worldwide.
Opposite her this weekend will be Stephanie Egger, a Swiss Judoka, two fights into her UFC career with all the promise in the world. Although coming in as a feared grappler, Egger has been unapologetic in her pursuit of highlight real KOs, securing her first in the octagon in the form of a victory via elbow over Shannon Young in her last outing. This Saturday, she looks to string together her first two wins inside the UFC.
Jessica-Rose Clark, with much more UFC experience in particular, will come in with the advantage according to the bookmakers at -196.
- Clark: -196
- Egger: +164
Egger’s background in Judoka is a big feather in her cap as a fighter, but make no mistake she is a very well-rounded athlete with just as dangerous striking as grappling. On the feet she is patient, with good shot selection and range, she utilizes mostly the basics, especially a crisp jab and cross as well as her great right low kick. The kick is an especially good weapon as she has been often able to time it perfectly, breaking the stance of potentially oncoming opponents, but outside of this she rarely fights on the back heel. What that means is a consistent pattern in Egger’s fights is that she steps forward to exchange on her terms or covers up and moves backward away from danger when her opponent steps in, she rarely looks to counter punch, instead choosing to reset and attack when she feels like it.
Clark has a great base in Muay Thai style striking, and what’s especially important here is her ability to almost always throw in combination. She will let loose a flurry of punches into her or use her flurry of shots to crash into the clinch in order to find knees and takedowns. Often these flurries will end with the right body kick, left hook, or step in elbows. However, her tendency to crash into the clinch off the end of some of her bursts will be dangerous against someone with the judo background of Egger. Egger likes to get to the over-under to either use a head and arm throw or whizzer kicks to get the fight to the floor. She utilizes short knee trips if she is the one pushed against the fence to regain control and hit the switch so staying in a clinch against the cage should be a very short-term position for Clark should she go there.
Obviously, after seeing her last fight, wrestling has been a large part of Clark’s focus in the past year, having elevated her game, especially control from the top and body lock takedowns. Unlike Egger, Clark likes to pummel her for both underhooks to secure the takedown, which is probably the better way against Egger who probably won’t battle for them. However, it will still be difficult fighting the stand-up grappling exchanges. On top Clark is good at staying tight, her head position is key in doing this and she sort of floats and edges her way into advancing position rather than cutting through the guard cleanly or setting up sequences. Egger has a very active guard, throwing up triangles and armbars, which if not secured at least create space to move and hit reversals.
I think that the pressure will be on Clark to come in and commit to her game plan. In the past, she has been criticized for engaging with opponents on their turfs, although her last performance was quite the opposite. Although wrestling has been a focus lately, she shouldn’t look to constantly go back and try to go takedown for a takedown with Egger, where she shines. At range, her ability to put together her punches in bunches and quickly can build on Egger who tends to cover up and wait for the action to break. I think this will allow Clark to stay leading the fight which is important because if Egger can find a way to be the one pressing the striking exchanges more often, it gives her the opportunity to initiate the clinch and proactively look for the throws and trips.
Overall, I think that if Clark can stick to maintaining her striking game and using it to choose her moments to initiate grappling strategically the fight is in her hands, but if she slips up and gets too caught up in reacting to what Egger brings it will be tough.
Prediction: Jessica-Rose Clark to win via decision
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.