With so many distractions outside the cage, it was easy to forget that there was still a fight between Paige VanZant and Rachael Ostovich going down Saturday night at UFC Brooklyn.
The personal life horrors of Rachael Ostovich — an alleged assault by her husband, Arnold Berdon, partially caught on tape — blew up in the months leading up to her bout with Paige VanZant at UFC Brooklyn. That the tragedy played out in public no doubt added to the pressure on Ostovich, who refused to give up her position on the UFC’s debut card on ESPN+ despite a fractured orbital.
In the coming months, Ostovich will no doubt deal with court dates and the dissolution of her marriage. Yet to let the circumstances of the fight, and its juxtaposition on the card alongside a bout featuring another man accused of abusing women, Greg Hardy, would do a disservice to the fighter herself. Ostovich wanted the story to be the fight. And ultimately, as is the case with just about every fight in the sport of MMA, that’s what it boiled down to Saturday.
It was VanZant who opened the action with a kick, while Ostovich opted to close the distance, clinch, and take the fight to the ground. Once, and VanZant was right back up. A second time, throwing her opponent to the canvas, and Ostovich was able to maintain top control. VanZant closed her guard, as Rachael Ostovich postured up. VanZant trapped Ostovich, however, forcing the ref in on a standup. But a lightening-fast right hand by Ostovich set up another takedown, and this time she was able to get to half guard. From there, it was a matter of pulling her leg free, while Paige clamped down on it with her legs. Ostovich would work on a choke, but VanZant’s ability to trap her opponent’s leg kept her safe, for the time being.
VanZant would then roll for an ankle lock, which led to some impressive transitions and a dicey situation for Ostovich. However, after getting back on the feet briefly in a scramble, they’d end up on the mat to finish the frame, with Ostovich looking for an arm-bar.
In the second, there was no question VanZant needed to keep the fight standing. She’d attack Ostvich’s leg with a kick, only to eat a right hand. Yet within the first minute, Ostovich had taken VanZant down, and threatened to take the back only to slip off. That led to VanZant taking the back, rolling to mount, dropping some big punches, then taking the back again! VanZant, high on the back, then locked in an arm-bar, and came down on the arm hard, forcing Rachael Ostovich to tap almost immediately!
Not the ending Ostovich had hoped for, but even staying in the fight was a huge moral victory for her. VanZant, meanwhile, gets back in the win column. After the fight, VanZant confirmed she felt her opponent’s arm pop during the finishing sequence.
Paige VanZant def. Rachael Ostovich by submission (arm-bar), Round 2, 1:50