It wasn't the most scintillating performance, but Norma Dumont might have done enough to make herself the next title challenger in the UFC women's featherweight division.
Dumont held on to beat Aspen Ladd via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas. Dumont picked Ladd apart with jabs and boxing combinations for most of the bout and was able to stymie a Ladd rally in the fifth round.
UFC women's featherweight champion Amanda Nunes seemed to have cleaned out the women's 145-pound division, but Dumont has now won three in a row and could be in position for a title bout. Nunes is also the UFC women's bantamweight champion, and she will defend that title against Julianna Pena at UFC 269 on Dec. 11 in Las Vegas.
Dumont vs. Ladd was put together on short notice. Ladd was shaky on the scale and missed weight by one pound for a scheduled fight with Macy Chiasson two weeks ago. Chiasson declined to take the bout. UFC then inserted Ladd in this main event -- one weight class up at featherweight -- when Dumont's original opponent, Holly Holm, withdrew due to injury last week.
ESPN has Ladd ranked No. 4 in the world in the women's bantamweight division. She had not fought since December 2019 due to knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL. Dumont is also a former bantamweight who moved up earlier this year.
"I know she took the fight on short notice, but I want to tell her she's a 145-er," Dumont said in her postfight interview. "... She has all the strength to keep fighting at 145."
Dumont used a nice jab to keep Ladd at bay for the majority of the fight. When Ladd threw her hands, Dumont would whip out a quick combination to stifle her opponent. Ladd, a wrestler adept at blows on the mat, started to press more in the fourth round.
Dumont made the mistake of taking Ladd down near the end of the fourth. Ladd swept to get on top and started raining down punches and elbows. In the fifth round, Ladd attempted to get Dumont down via a clinch against the cage but could not do it.
Ladd was able to bloody Dumont's nose with dirty boxing and elbows up against the fence. But she could not get the finish that she needed. Dumont was well ahead.
"We know her strength is ground and pound," Dumont said. "I said many times, in order for you to take me down, it's going to take a lot."
Dumont (7-1) was coming off a split decision victory over former title challenger Felicia Spencer in May. The Brazil native is still looking for her first career KO/TKO win but has shown the ability to pull out victories.
The 31-year-old Dumont trains at Syndicate MMA and the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.
Ladd (9-2) has a 4-2 UFC record, with the only loss prior to this coming against former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie at bantamweight. The California native has seven finishes in nine career wins. Ladd, 26, is considered one of the top up-and-coming female fighters in UFC.