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UFC on ESPN+ 13 rookie report: Grading the newcomers in Sacramento

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Fighters from around the globe dream of the day they’ll step into the UFC octagon for the first time. For three athletes, Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 13 event marked that special moment in their career.

Check out this week’s rookie report to see what kind of first impression those fighters made on the sport’s biggest stage from Golden1 Center in Sacramento, Calif.

* * * * *

Brianna Van Buren


Brianna Van Buren

Division: Strawweight
Result: Brianna Van Buren def. Livinha Souza via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Record: (9-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Grade: A

Standing at just 5-feet tall, the diminutive Brianna Van Buren doesn’t strike the most intimidating presence physically, but her game certainly sends a strong message. Earlier this year, Van Buren won three fights in a single night while competing under the Invicta FC banner, earning the respect of MMA hardcores. Those who weren’t on the bandwagon already probably will be after Saturday night.

Van Buren was phenomenal from the outset, showing no intimidation as Livinha Souza tried to get in her face at Friday’s ceremonial weigh-ins or when “The Brazilian Gangster” tried to turn their preliminary bout into a brawl.

Van Buren was effective on the feet, accurate and powerful with her aggressive boxing. But she certainly wasn’t out of her element on the floor, either, showing expertise both offensively and defensively in a few grappling exchanges. Strawweight is an incredibly deep division, so it will take a few wins before her name is considered among the true contenders of the weight class, but Van Buren’s is certainly a name to remember.


Brianna Van Buren def. Livinha Souza at UFC on ESPN+ 13: Best photos

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