The Severe Spotlight: Amanda Lemos

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Amanda Lemos of Brazil battles Marina Rodriguez of Brazil in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Amanda Lemos is a force to be reckoned with. Marina Rodriguez came into this contest riding a four-fight win streak, having beaten both women that were colloquially determined to have competed for the title of number one contender a month ago in Mackenzie Dern and Xiaonan Yan. Yet, Marina Rodriguez was being thrust yet again into the Brazilian meat grinder that is “Amandinha” Amanda Lemos. Lemos came into this 7-1 in her last eight, only dropping a loss to Jessica Andrade.

Coming into the contest, the rhetoric was around Marina Rodriguez once again cementing her place as the rightful number one contender and having had to have done it the hard way. The rhetoric was around Rodriguez being the longer, more technical, more adept fighter overall. The fight, as often is the case when outcomes are laid bare before the MMA God’s, did not turn out that way.

Round one began with Lemos fighting the perfect fight. She is, at her core an explosive, ferocious striker. That style of fighting is difficult to continue over the course of 25 minutes, especially when the pace is not under your control. The first round was the perfect example of Lemos fighting intelligently. Her range management caused Rodriguez a ton of problems, she ensured that she was always just on the edge of the pocket, and always primed to counter – that signal was obvious to Rodriguez, who took heed and didn’t throw with her usual output. With the bullets of Rodriguez left in the chamber, this freed Lemos to fire off her own leg kicks and her own body kicks.

Impactful striking is what scores highest on the cards of the judges, and impactful striking might as well replace “Amandina” as the nickname of Lemos. The shots crack like a late-night NYC gunfight in Harlem. The core scaffolding of the opening five minutes centred around Lemos using her feet to bait Rodriguez into throwing, and then layering onto the bait the threat of a big counter. She also did a great job of moving out of range of shots, hopping out of the way of kicks, but not being flat footed in doing so.

There is a Lemos mistake in round one, and that comes from the attempted outside trip after attaining the bodylock. Going to the bodylock was a great idea, and that will be highlighted later on, however the outside trip so close to the cage without cutting an angle was a poor choice. It allowed Rodriguez to simply post on the cage, and reverse the momentum of the takedown, leaving Lemos on bottom in half guard. Lemos did a good job of subduing the damage onslaught that Rodriguez wanted to throw, however shots were landed.

Round two saw Rodriguez start well, but fall back into the layers of the Lemos gameplan. Around 40 seconds into the second round, Lemos throws a naked high kick that misses. Rodriguez attempts to seize this opportunity to dart into the pocket and punish the naked kick. Instead Lemos glides out of the pocket on the angle and drops a clean right hand onto the cheek bone of Rodrigurez.

The improvement in fight IQ is one of the best things in the story of this fight – and we see it again in round two. When the pocket distance fails, Lemos instead of using strikes to jam the reach of Rodriguez uses an entrance into the clinch or the bodylock. On this occasion Lemos gets to a clinch position. The grip set she opts for is an interesting one, she is framing the elbow of Rodriguez with her right land, and a shallow underhook with her left. Initially this looks like an attempt to setup an elbow, (spinning or otherwise) on the break. Instead, she takes a penetration step with her left leg through the centre, disrupting the centre of gravity of Rodriguez, and immediately cuts the angle to her right-hand side, pulling the lat with her underhook, driving the tricep grip up, and using her penetration step leg (her left leg) to block the right thigh of Rodriguez, dropping her to the mat.

We now get to see some of the grappling prowess of Lemos. She drops a thigh ride hook as Rodriguez looks to build from turtle, and instead of looking to land shots, Lemos turns the corner and gets chest to back connection, dropping Rodriguez to the underhook-side hip and fishes out her top hook and places that in to solidify back control. Wasting no time, she asks questions of Rodriguez with a tight jaw crank. Rodriguez guts it out and fights hands.

There is some switching of body triangles and some further attempts at chokes, but the interesting choice comes when Rodriguez wins the head position battle and starts to get her shoulders to the mat. Lemos does a good job of anticipating the escape and builds up to her knees, winning the hip height battle, but she opts for a far side Dagestani handcuff and a cross face. This is an uncommon variation to opt for in MMA when losing back control but a very effective one. The position progresses to half guard, due to the good work of Rodriguez, who threatened with a bottom Ezekiel choke, but didn’t have the correct head position and so wasn’t able to finish. Lemos after her escape looks to threaten both a far side kimura and shots from the top. Dilemmas.

Round three, whilst not lasting long is illuminating. Rodriguez came out with far more aggression, which she cannot be blamed for. The first round was close, and the second round almost certainly went to Lemos, so with the possibility of being two rounds down, the time for change was now. However, the primary dilemma of Amanda Lemos is the power, and her lustful trust in the stone knuckles in her hands to win pocket trades. Rodriguez’s aggression played perfectly into exactly that scenario.

The end arrives after a Rodriguez right hand is countered by a big over hand right hook from Lemos. Rodriguez, stumbles back toward the cage. Lemos gives chase with a flying knee before unloading a barrage of long, stunning, gunshot wound strikes to a shelled-up Rodriguez. Jason Herzog steps in at the perfect time, it was not necessary for Rodriguez to be separated from her consciousness, the fight was over.