Welcome to the UFC: Kanako Murata

Kanako Murata
Kanako Murata vs Liana Pirosin Credit: Dave Mandel/Invicta FC

UFC Vegas 14 was set to be headlined by Rafael Dos Anjos vs Islam Makhachev. Unfortunately, Makhachev pulled out due to an injury. Of all the possible replacements, Paul Felder emerged from “retirement” to save the main event on short notice. Also on the card is the former Invicta FC strawweight champion Kanako Murata, making her debut. She will be taking on UFC veteran Randa Markos (10-9-1 MMA, 6-8-1 UFC).

Kanako Murata
Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan
Combat Sports Academy
4 Submissions

How will Murata fare in the UFC:

Kanako Murata comes from a wrestling and judo background. She was a national judo champion while in high school and later transitioned to freestyle wrestling. She won gold in the junior world championships in 2011 and in 2012 won gold in the Asian Wrestling Championships.

What Murata lacks in size at 5’1” she makes up for with good footwork and speed. The Japanese fighter is a high-level wrestler. Her timing on her entrances is solid, set up when her opponent comes in blind, with Murata timing her level changes well. Murata is very good at cutting the angle after the initial takedown attempt and getting the fight down. She can get the takedown from the clinch as well as blasting the double, as she’s just an excellent wrestler altogether. Striking-wise she has a good left hand and is quick, but everything is to set up the takedown. Now, once Murata gets the takedown she has a bit of everything needed. Her top position is very strong, she has good ground and pound, and is a threat at attacking her opponent’s neck. With everything, she can easily go three rounds and fight at the same persistent pace.

How she matches up with Markos:

Randa Markos is someone that has been fighting at a high level for a while. She’s had some good wins but a lot of bad losses. Markos has decent striking and better grappling. Grappling with a better wrestler and stronger fighter would be a mistake however. Markos may have a striking advantage but it’s not significant at all. In a fight I expect to be in close quarters, I fully expect Murata to score takedowns and get top position time to win a decision with.


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