Photo courtesy of KSW/ kswmma.com

UFC Greenville: All eyes on Lipski’s return following debut loss

It has got to be tough to come into any organization with a lot of hype next to your name. When it comes to the UFC, if you have the reputation of being one of the world’s top fighters in your weight class, even the smallest of expectations are instantly doubled.

The latest casualty of those sky-high UFC expectations happened to be the former KSW flyweight champion, Ariane Lipski (11-4).

The 25-year-old Brazilian came into the UFC having not lost in almost four years. And after clearing out the women’s flyweight division in one of Europe’s best organizations, the Lipski hype train went head on into an obstacle in the shape of Joanne Calderwood, which would eventually leave it derailed under the brightest of lights.

Lipski, a dynamic striker who became known globally due to her precise combinations and deceiving knockout power, stepped into the Octagon on Jan. 19 ready for war. The stage was set for her to send a shockwave through the flyweight division during UFC’s premiere event on ESPN+ — but as the first horn sounded, “JoJo” Calderwood had other ideas.

Well aware of “The Violence Queen’s” striking abilities, Calderwood limited Lipski’s time on the front foot, and dominated the fight on the ground, despite some glimpses of promise from the Brazilian in the early standup exchanges.

Lipski, who is comfortable on the ground — having won multiple fights by submission in the past — seemed to be caught off guard by Calderwood’s wrestling based game plan, and completely not prepared to work off her back. And as much as a striking war would have gone down a treat with the fans, Calderwood had done her homework, and subsequently spoiled Lipski’s arrival onto the big stage.

Fast forward five months, Lipski is set to make her return into the Octagon during UFC’s visit to Greenville, South Carolina, and remove the stain caused by her debut loss.

Across the cage from the Brazilian will be fellow promotion rookie in Molly McCann (8-2), who is set to make her third UFC appearance on Saturday night.

McCann, 29, also lost her UFC debut last May, but has since bounced back with a decision victory over Priscila Cachoeira earlier this year.

Heading into Greenville, Lipski desperately needs a bounce back win, and even more so to avoid going 0-2 to begin her UFC career. McCann, though, will be no pushover. The English fighter will be poised to start putting together a run of wins to move up the flyweight ladder, and adding Lipski’s name to the list of victims would do her resume no harm.

With all that being said, as the Octagon door closes on Saturday, the fighter with time and arguably more upside on her side will still be “The Violence Queen,” meaning that once again, all eyes will be on the Curitiba native as she prepares to kick off her UFC career, for real this time.

The Brazilian has not shied away from claiming that she expects to have the flyweight gold around her waist around a year from now, and if that ambitious plan is to come to fruition, then the road to glory must start now — with a convincing win over McCann.

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Sports journalist based in CA, USA. Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos

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