Octagon Oracles: Ramona Pascual

Grade: D+

Following a first-round finish at Invicta 45 last month, Hong Kong’s Ramona Pascual will get her UFC opportunity on short notice against Josiane Nunes on Saturday night.

After a 2-2 start to her career, Pascual won a unanimous decision over Seo Woo Jin at Road FC 45 before a two-year layoff. She returned to action with a quick standing TKO finish of Yulia Kutsenko in 2019 before another year and a half off, but she earned another first-round finish in 2021 and stopped Shamir Peshewa last month to give her three-straight first-round finishes as part of a four-fight win streak.

On the feet, Pascual relies largely on her 1-2 while fighting at range. A natural southpaw, left straight is her go-to punch and she’ll occasionally follow it up with a lead right hook. She’ll mix in leg kicks as well as body kicks to the open side of her opponent, and although she’s flashed a front kick in some of her fights it’s typically acted as more of a range finder. Pascual is quick to rush into clinches from space and may eat a few shots to do so, but once she has her hands on an opponent she’ll quickly look to get head control and start landing hard knees to the body. Those knees are easily her best weapon, and she used them to help set up her finishes against Yulia Kunetsko and Shamir Peshewa.

Pascual will also look for trips from the clinch in order to get things to the ground when needed. She showed off some strong top control against Guadalupe Guzan, repeatedly thwarting her efforts to bridge out from the bottom. Pascual was able to isolate one of Guzan’s knees with her legs and land a few good punches and some elbows, which ultimately softened Guzan up for the keylock that ended the bout.

While Pascual’s clinch work can be effective, it’s a position she falls back on a little too readily and it’s an area where she’s not always dominant. When pressured and taking damage she won’t hesitate to try and grab a clinch with little or no setup, which often results in her taking more damage as she comes forward. She’s dangerous when she can get head control and land those body knees, but against opponents like Janay Harding and Seo Woo Jin she was frequently outmuscled after initiating clinches. It also has to be noted that the competition she’s faced up to this point hasn’t been the stiffest; the combined records of her eight opponents is 10-9, without including their fights with Pascual.

As the third opponent change for Josiane Nunes on this card, this is a big opportunity for Pascual to come into the UFC on short-notice after her finish at Invicta last month. Unfortunately for her, Nunes is an extremely dangerous opponent that will be looking to exploit the holes in Pascual’s striking game.

Pascual has definitely made improvements compared to the early bouts in her career, but her overall skillset isn’t strong enough to make any real impact in the UFC. She does have the advantage of being one of the few women’s featherweights on the roster, so that should allow her to stick around for at least a few fights.

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