Justine Kish set foot in the octagon for the first time in two years at UFC Raleigh on Saturday, and while it wasn’t an action-packed affair, she got the job done.
Flyweight action at UFC Raleigh on Saturday night saw Justine Kish go up against Lucie Pudilova, in what was almost certainly a loser leaves town affair. Pudilova, a Czech fighter, was 2-4 in the UFC, and on a three fight losing streak entering the night. Kish had lost her past two, meanwhile, and had not fought in nearly two years. Making ring rust a factor.
Maybe that ring rust explained the slow start. Both women were light on their feet early, circling in and out. The feeling out period dragged on. There was a bit of back and forth early, with Kish eventually closing the distance and locking up a Thai clinch briefly. However Pudilova escaped and later pushed her opponent to the ground. Pudilova landed a left. Kish fanned on a front kick. She’d again press forward, getting inside and looking for a clinch by the fence, the pair exchanging on her way in. Kish couldn’t maintain that position, however. Kish may have taken the round by a small margin in the end.
Kish’s angles and movement were fairly unorthodox throughout the fight, and she mixed in a high kick early in the second round. Pudilova, despite her height and reach advantage, seemed to struggle with finding her range and rhythm thanks to Kish’s awkward style. Kish closed the distance and briefly had a clinch roughly two minutes into round two. Nothing doing in that exchange, however, as the pair broke apart as quickly as they had come together. A lot of movement, with little landing, was essentially the story of the first half of the fight. What that would look like on the judges’ scorecards was anyone’s guess. The pair would come on at the end of the second, with both ladies landing in an exchange.
In the third, Kish added in some leg and body kicks. The fight was still anyone’s to take, but the action remained sparse. Perhaps in part because it was a close fight, and a single mistake could change the course of the bout. Kish would pull off a spinning back fist, but it didn’t hit the mark. Pudilova would fire a combo, and Kish would answer with kicks. But the turning point came with under a minute to go, as Justin Kish pulled off a late takedown. Pudilova fired elbows from the bottom but the takedown may have captured Kish the round. In the end, the round didn’t matter, as all three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Kish.
Official Result: Justine Kish def. Lucie Pudilova by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)