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Rosa digs deep for close split decision over Procopio for first UFC win

It’s Brasil vs Brasil in this opening bout for UFC on ESPN+ 15 in Shenzhen, China. Both Woman’s Bantamweight prospects are making their UFC debut. Karol Rosa enters this bout with the more senior resume holding an 11-3 pro record and looks to capitalize on her two fight win streak, both from third round finishes. Lara Procopio makes her promotional debut with an undefeated 6-0 record, with her previous two opponents also boasting the more veteran resumes (9-4-2, 12-6-0). Thomas Fann is the official for this 135lbs match up.

Rosa works her jab effectively, mixing up her striking with leg kicks and walking into her combos. She seems comfortable in the pocket, even when eating shots to set up her own. Procopio’s power does little to deter Rosa as she continues to stick to her game plan. Procopio begins to look for the clinch to avoid Rosa’s striking, but is forced to stand and trade.

Procopio uses her elbows when stepping out of the clinch, but rosa stands confidently in the center, content with her variety in striking. Overall Procopio keeps her hands much lower than Rosa, which may catch up with her if adjustments aren’t made in the later rounds. They finish out the first round clinched on the fence as the horn sounds.

Rosa continues her persistent striking, transitioning to leg kicks as she steps into her combos walking down Procopio. Procopio uses her hooks to set up her level change, but the take down just isn’t there for her so far on the night. Procopio still remains confident despite not being effective with her game plan.

When Procopios combos do land with authority, she waits too long to shoot for the take down and afford Rosa ample time to put her sprawl on display. As the fight returns to the feet both fighters continue to stand and throw big shots in the center. Both fighters maintained pace through a very close second round, but it is surely the take down defense that will find Rosa with the edge on the scorecards going into the final round.

Procopio enters the third more aggressively, almost as if she is mentally committing to the striking game and abandoning the takedown. Rosa finally drops Procopio to the canvas and follows her down for the ground and pound. She flirts with getting into guard but remembers to remain standing when the finish doesn’t appear to be there for her.

Rosa adds knees to the body in the thai clinch to her offense as she keeps up pace. Rosa jab comes into rhythm for her, forcing Procopio to seek another desperate takedown and be subsequently shutout. In the end Rosa did just enough to earn a close split decision (30-27,29-28,29-28).

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