Mara Romero Borella
It may seem like a cop-out, but the only way to describe Mara Romero Borella (11-4) is “balanced”.
She can strike, wrestle and submit opponents. Her 11 wins are divided as follows: three by knockout, four by submission and four by decision. It’s a testament to how well-rounded she is that she can check an opponent’s chin, wrench a limb or go the full distance. That last one is the most impressive because Borella’s fighting style is very aggressive and fast-paced, meaning her cardio is in tip-top shape.
If there’s one thing I really like, it’s that Borella isn’t uncomfortable anywhere.
Many fighters are well-rounded, but they’ll prefer one facet of the game overall. Michael Bisping can wrestle, but if he can help it he will stick and move with his kickboxing. Georges St-Pierre has a wicked jab, but he prefers to get the opponent onto the canvas when he can cut them up with his ground and pound. Borella doesn’t have such an attitude.
If her opponent wants to stand and bang, she’s more than happy to. If they try to clinch, she’ll attempt to trip or hip throw them to the ground. If she has top position, she’ll immediately try to transition while working ground and pound and grab a limb when the opportunity presents itself.
The concern with Borella is that she can be finished via strikes. Prior to the 5-0 with 1 NC run that has put her in the UFC, Borella had been finished by strikes in three straight fights. While she’s most likely grown as a striker since then, it means that her chin isn’t as sturdy as it should be.
With 23 professional MMA bouts under her belt, Kalindra Faria (18-5) is the most experienced WMMA fighter to join the UFC in recent memory. She’s finished 12 out of the 18 opponents she’s faced, and over half of those by knockout.
Faria is the quintessential combination power hitter.
When she can help it, she’ll walk forward throwing powerful combinations to the head. There’s an interesting variance to her technique; if she’s stationary her punches are quite sharp but they get wider when she moves. It’s not a surprise then that Faria’s best success comes when opponents stand in the pocket and trade with her. She doesn’t go to the body much with her punches, but she has a very powerful body kick that she whips out all too infrequently. She also has a brutal top game as the power from her feet carries over onto the ground.
But her striking defense and grappling defense are night and day.
On the feet, Faria has some nifty tricks. She’ll pre-emptively smother knees and punches with her palm and can almost always roll with a punch and react with a counter. But she’s vulnerable to being put on the fence and just dragged down. She’s been lucky to face few talented wrestlers, but Jessica Aguilar managed to take a decision from her by absorbing her power on the feet and just taking heard down. Contrast that with the fact that Faria took Karolina Kowalkiewicz to a split-decision, and the imbalance becomes clear.
The dearth of fight footage on either woman means that predicting this fight is going to involve a lot of guesswork.
Borello is more well-rounded whereas Faria is more experienced. Faria can be out-wrestled, but Borello isn’t the type of fighter who structures her offense around grappling unless she is forced to. The fight starts out on the feet and I suspect Faria can check Borello’s chin more easily than Borello can wrestle and submit Faria. She may not get the knockout, but Faria will do enough damage to sway the judges.
Faria via Decision
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