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In the Women’s Flyweight division, we have a showdown between Joanne ‘Jojo’ Wood and Taila Santos. In less than a month, Wood will have gone from the altar to inside the octagon. Formerly known as Joanne Calderwood, the Scot married her head coach John Wood and funnily enough only needed to drop the Calder from her last name. Wood comes into this fight off a split decision defeat to Lauren Murphy. A result that cost her a title shot. With her eyes still set on the belt, she will need to take down the rising Santos. Currently riding a three-fight winning streak, Santos has looked better and better every fight. It’s crazy to think the Brazilian lost to Mara Romero Borella in her UFC debut, especially given her dominance during this winning streak.
This is excellent matchmaking, as both women are closing in on a title shot. For Joanne Wood, it seems like she has lost three title eliminator fights since joining the Flyweight division in 2018. However, in a shallow division that needs fresh title contenders, Wood remains a win or two away from a title shot. With excellent striking, Wood ranks number all-time in the Flyweight division in total strikes landed, significant strikes landed per minute and strike differential. Given Valentina Shevchenko has fought one more fight at Flyweight than Wood, it’s a real nod to just how talented on the feet Jojo is. Where she had her issues is with her submission defense and at times, leaky takedown defense. Something that Taila Santos will test, as the Brazilian has been a takedown machine during this three-fight win streak. In fact, Santos has landed a combined eleven takedowns in that span. With immense physical strength and good striking, Santos may be a legitimate looming test for Shevchenko in due time.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Wood. While I expect Santos to implement a heavy wrestling approach, I believe that the later the fight goes, the more you’ll start to see Wood shrug off her takedown attempts. While on the feet, Santos throws excellent leg kicks, but Wood is the better of the two. Nearly doubling Santos’ significant strikes per minute, Wood’s high output will be the difference. In the end, I expect this to be close, but Wood gets the nod via decision.