Norma Dumont did just enough to win her first main event at UFC Vegas 40 while picking up a unanimous decision over Aspen Ladd.
The five-round fight mostly showcased Dumont tossing out a lead jab that was consistently popping Ladd in the face, with Ladd’s offensive output nearly non-existent in her first fight back in nearly two years after major reconstructive knee surgery. When the fight ended, Dumont had clearly earned the victory, although it’s tough to imagine she’ll have many highlights to admire when replaying the fight in the future.
The judges scored the fight 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 with Dumont picking up her third win in a row and second straight in the featherweight division.
“I know she took the fight on short notice but I want to tell her right now that she’s a 145 [pound fighter],” Dumont said about Ladd afterwards. “She fights at 145, she’s got all the strength and power at 145 and I want her to keep fighting in this [weight class].”
There wasn’t much action at the start of the fight outside of Dumont looking to establish her lead jab while keeping Ladd on the end of her punches. Ladd was almost completely inactive through the first seven minutes of the fight before finally pushing forward to look for a takedown, although the attempt was quickly thwarted by Dumont.
“That’s what we trained for,” Dumont said about her takedown defense. “We know her strength is ground-and-pound. In order for you to take me down, it’s going to take a lot cause I’m really good in my defenses.”
Dumont’s ability to stick the jab in Ladd’s face was the only weapon she needed while also staying fast on her feet to continue dancing on the outside.
Between the second and third rounds, Ladd’s coaches implored her to start engaging more after a lack of offense through the first 10 minutes, which allowed Dumont to get ahead on the scorecards. That resulted in Ladd rushing ahead in order to look for the takedown but Dumont defended well before separating and getting back to the center of the octagon.
While Dumont wasn’t upping her volume, she was still chipping away with the jab and Ladd wasn’t answering back with much of anything. Dumont did just enough to stay ahead without taking too many risks but it was still putting her ahead in the fight.
The bizarre performance from Ladd had her head coach Jim West livid in the corner between rounds as he shouted “you’re down 3-0 … please tell me what you’re doing?” as he attempted to jump-start her performance to stage a comeback.
Ladd finally reacted in the fifth round as she closed the distance and attempted to out-muscle Dumont in the clinch while peppering away with strikes against the cage. Ladd managed to draw blood from Dumont’s nose as the punches kept coming to the head and then going back down to the body.
With seconds ticking away to the final horn, Dumont started firing knees to the body and then raising her hands in celebration as recognized that she would be leaving with the victory.
Far from a truly memorable performance, Dumont still got the job done while taking on a completely different type of opponent in Ladd than she would have faced against former champion Holly Holm, who was forced out of this bout with a knee injury.
With featherweight champion Amanda Nunes still seeking fights at 145 pounds, Dumont may end up as her most logical next opponent after she moved to 2-0 in the division with the win over Ladd on Saturday night.