ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The women’s strawweights lived up to the hype.
In an action-packed inaugural bout, top division prospect Claudia Gadelha defeated Tina Lahdemaki by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27) in the prelims of UFC Fight Night on Wednesday here at Revel to kick off the UFC’s 115-pound division.
Gadelha, the former Invicta FC No. 1 contender, was more effective standing up and was dominant on the ground, as expected. But Lahdemaki, a relative unknown from Finland, held her own and never really looked in over her head.
Gadelha (12-0), a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and product of Rio’s Nova Uniao, had Lahdemaki’s back for the final minute-plus of the first round, working on a neck crank. That was the closest she came to a finish. She also landed some impressive takedowns, showing off her strength and technique, as well as some decent stand up.
Lahdemaki (5-1) was scrappy and the two finished the third and final round swinging until the bell sounded, igniting the crowd here. It was an excellent start to a division that will be highlighted on the upcoming Ultimate Fighter 20. The winner of the reality show tournament will be crowned the first women’s strawweight champion in December. TUF 20 premieres on FOX Sports 1 on Sept. 10.
Gadelha, 25, won’t compete on the show, which is filming now in Las Vegas, because she wouldn’t be able to make the 116-pound maximum repeatedly over the course of the six weeks. But she’s very much a top contender for the title once everything gets hashed out — and could arguably be the best women’s strawweight fighter in the world.
The expectations were low in this fight for Lahdemaki, 25, who just seemed happy to be here this week, but she showed it wasn’t an accident that she was signed by the UFC. She’ll likely be involved in some exciting fights moving forward.