Prospect in the Spotlight (May 15-16): Hailey Cowan

Introduction

American bantamweight prospect Hailey Cowan was to be in action for Legacy Fighting Alliance, where she would have fought opposite an unnamed opponent. She would have been looking to continue her winning streak, as Cowan looks to get closer to an eventual UFC contract. She represents Blitz Sport MMA, an underrated camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Clinch/Top Grappling: Cowan’s biggest strength by a mile is her ability to fight in the clinch. Cowan loves to close the distance on her opponents and push them up against the cage. From the clinch, she mixes up shots to the body and head. She bullies her opponent, not allowing them to breathe or gain dominant position. She’s also quite good at scoring takedowns from the standing body lock or when holding an opponent against the cage. A large part of this is due to her superior strength. When she is on top of an opponent, she’s very good at advancing position and looking for submission opportunities. She’s also hard to get out from under, as seen in her dominant wrestling performance over Bellator vet Jessica Middleton.

Athleticism: There are very few women that Cowan will step in the cage with that will outdo her in athleticism. Cowan was a gymnast for the University of Baylor. I don’t think I have to point this out, but gymnasts tend to be some of the best overall athletes in sports. Cowan, as mentioned, is very strong and powerful physically. Her balance is uncanny. She is quite quick and agile on the feet, which is why her movement is good. She also has great flexibility due to her background, which is why her high kicks snap so well. That was seen in the devastating head kick KO over Jessica Sotack. She’s now in the correct weight class, having moved up from flyweight to bantamweight. Even with that in mind, she’s still big for 135 and her strength will transition over seamlessly.

Needs Improvement

Striking Defense: A weakness I spotted in Cowan’s most recent outing was her striking defense. In her fight with Brittney Cloudy, Cowan showed holes on the feet that Cloudy took advantage of early in the bout. Her hand positioning made it easy for Cloudy to throw punches through. I saw her hands too low at points and too wide at other points. She doesn’t like fighting on her heels either, as an aggressive striker can make her uncomfortable. Her footwork when she’s on the defensive can use some work too. She walks into strikes and isn’t great at using her movement to take away striking angles from her opponent.

Strength of Schedule: While it’s obvious that Cowan is looking to build herself up in terms of cage time and overall experience, her opposition thus far has been largely lackluster. Her only loss came in her pro debut against fellow debutant Victoria Leonardo, who has gone on to be a top 125-pound prospect herself. Her most experienced opponent is the aforementioned Middleton at 5-5. And while she’s dominated the weakest of opponents thus far, she struggled in her most recent bout where she edged out a split decision over Brittney Cloudy. That bout could have gone either way, so Cowan is lucky she came out on top.

Outlook

UFC Feature Performer: Cowan is just 28 years old right now and has not been doing MMA for an extensive period of time, but she’s already shown great promise. She gets better from fight to fight and is showing that she’s a sponge. Her striking is powerful and can end fights quickly. Her grappling and takedowns are both strong. She’s a top-notch athlete. All of these things are going to make Cowan a household name in the near future. She’s also a marketable fighter due to her looks and personality. Given her athletic acumen, developing skill and marketability, there is no doubt in my mind she will be UFC bound at some point. She will make some main cards and some prelims, but the point of all that is she will be with the company for a while.

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