UFC 296 marks the return of The King, Casey O’Neill. The Scottish-Australian who fights out of America will be making her second appearance of the year, however, this one will have a lot more pressure on it. O’Neill suffered the first loss of her career in March and will look to get back to winning ways in Vegas when she clashes with the in-form, Ariane Lipski.
O’Neill tasted defeat for the first time in her professional career when she took on former title challenger, Jennifer Maia. Despite being a slight favourite before the bout itself, she lost the fight via unanimous decision.
On the night, she was outlanded 151-137 across 15 minutes. The bout was largely contested on the feet as no woman was able to get it to the ground. O’Neill appeared to struggle with her distance management early on.
Despite losing in London, it’s worth noting that she was returning from having knee surgery and had been out for a prolonged period of time out.
She’s still only 26 and is certainly championship material. She’ll look to be getting back into the win column at UFC 296.
— Casey Oneill (@kingcaseymma) October 2, 2023
UFC 296, Ariane Lipski and The King’s Keys to Victory
O’Neill and Lipski will meet in the opening fight of the preliminary card and should put on a highly competitive bout. Lipski is enjoying a two-fight winning run and will look to continue this form at UFC 296.
Last time out, she defeated Melissa Gatto via split decision. Despite being outstruck, she landed the more meaningful shots, eventually notching her the win. Prior to this, she comprehensively beat JJ Aldrich. Recording 113 total strikes and defending all 12 of Aldrich’s takedown attempts, Lipski put on a strong, confident performance. The Queen of Violence will be looking to live up to her name in Vegas. She’ll have to lean on this takedown defence as O’Neill is extremely dangerous on the ground.
Where has Lipski looked weaker in her UFC career thus far? That’s the question that O’Neill and her coaches at Xtreme Couture have to answer in order to get the win.
There’s plenty of footage on Lipski as the former Muay Thai champion has had 24 MMA fights, including 10 UFC bouts. Granted, her UFC bouts have had a varying level of success, with a record of 5-5, including three TKO finish losses. Importantly, these have come as a result of being taken down and ground and pounded into a loss, as we mentioned earlier.
O’Neill is dominant once she gets the fight to the ground. She’s recorded three UFC finishes across four wins, all three of which have come on the ground. She’s got a 42% takedown accuracy, landing eight through her five fights. She lands 8.77 strikes per minute (the most in UFC history), however, there’s one fight that skewed this stat. She landed a crazy 230 total strikes against Roxanne Modafferi in their fight, breaking records on the way.
If O’Neill can get this fight to the ground, it’s in her wheelhouse and it should be straightforward for her to get back amongst the winners. She has to be sensible in her approach, however, as Lipski could punish her if she’s sloppy with her stand-up and wrestling transitions.
This is a pivotal fight at flyweight when taking into account the rankings, so expect a highly competitive fight!