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The curtain jerker comes in the Women’s Strawweight division, as former title challenger Jessica Penne takes on Tabatha Ricci. Returning to the octagon less than three months since falling defeat to Emily Ducote, Penne will look to rebound. Previous to the loss, Penne had rattled off two straight wins. Meanwhile, Ricci comes into this fight off back-to-back wins over Maria Oliveira and Polyana Viana. Looking to make it three straight, Ricci is presented with a golden opportunity. A chance to knock off a ranked foe and crack the division’s top fifteen.

Since returning in April of 2021 from a four year ban due to a drug test failure, Penne has fought three times. Within those three fights, she has notched two wins and is ranked among the top fifteen. An impressive feat, but at 39 years of age, and with her last fight resulting in defeat, Penne is likely a gatekeeper at this stage in her career. A known grappler, who’s lengthy and has excellent submissions, Penne is a dangerous fighter to tangle with on the mat. On the feet is a different story, as she is vulnerable to getting pieced up. However, to Penne’s credit, her scrappiness and toughness have aided her in edging out fights. The same could be said about Ricci, who isn’t the best striker, but she walks forwards and isn’t afraid to brawl. Where Ricci shines though, is within her wrestling and grappling. Landing ten takedowns and a little over 16 minutes of control time in the last two fights combined, Ricci has had little issues smothering her foes on the mat.

Sensing that this is going to be a close fight, especially given both are limited strikers and excellent on the ground, I’m going to side with Penne. The reason behind this prediction, is that Penne’s length is a huge factor in this fight. On the feet, she has a four inch height and six inch reach advantage. On the ground, her long limbs cause havoc, as she has often reversed positions and threatened with submissions. Ricci, offering similar volume on the feet and with her game revolving around being in top control, I see the Brazilian having a tough time solving Penne. In the end, I do believe the fight will be close, but I also foresee Penne getting her hand raised – winning via decision.

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