Hailey Cowan vs. Anel Cantu was a bout in the American Kombat Alliance (AKA 1) Women’s Flyweight Division. Which was held in Bossier, Louisiana last month on August 18th. Two young fighters about to hit it big in their Amateur Debut started off the main card. And remarkably, both of them showed calmness and poise when entering the octagon – especially Hailey Cowan.
The first round went off, and right at the outset, we could see the styles that these two fighters favor. Hailey Cowan is more of a striker, and she likes to mix things up with hand strikes and leg kicks, while her opponent is a grappler and likes to go for takedowns. So, you could say that this was a classic striker vs. grappler matchup.
At the start of the first round, Anel Cantu shot for a single leg takedown. She caught Hailey’s leg, and it seemed like the takedown was inevitable, but Hailey got her chance to show off another important aspect of her game – her takedown defense.
She managed to get her back to the cage without being taken down, and from then on it was a wrestler’s pummel game. Both fighters had mixed success at the start of the fight, as Cantu was the one who pressured her opponent, and was continually trying to take Cowan down. And add into this mix, a few “dirty boxing” strikes from up close, and a few knees, and round one ended. It seemed like a pretty close fight at this stage, and who won round one was anyone’s guess.
Things got much different in the second round. Anel Cantu was now showing signs of fatigue – as she worked hard in the first round trying to get the takedown. And the bad thing about her game now was that the only thing that she was after was the takedown. Cantu made no effort to mix things up, and so her style became predictable for Cowan.
Again – she tried the takedown, both single leg, and double leg, but Cowan was now much better at anticipating these techniques. And one thing that we neglected to mention about Cowan is that she is a former gymnast, and as such, she is strong for her weight – you could see it from her frame and just how big she looked compared to her opponent. At one point the fight commentator said that “her calves are ridiculous” when he was talking about how athletic Cowan was.
So, Cowan stuffed all of the takedown attempts from Cantu, and along the way she threw in a lot of knees to Cantu’s body, while they were wrestling. At one point she hit Cantu with a solid combination and blood came pouring from Cantu’s nose. And then came the move of the fight!
Cowan struck Cantu in the head with a vicious head kick. The head kick was as close to a knockout as it can get, and as Cantu got rocked, she managed to grab hold of Cowan, to prevent any further damage. Cantu showed here that she had heart.
The third round was more of the same as the first, but now Cowan managed to mix in hand strikes with leg kicks in between clinches, and she was now the one in full control, continuing to pressure Cantu. Cantu came pretty close to a takedown at the end of the round, but Cowan again defended it, and the fight ended, and the judges officially declared that Hailey Cowan won by unanimous decision.
Cowan said in the post-fight interview; she expected Cantu to try to control her against the cage, so she was very well prepared for her opponent’s wrestling abilities.
The contest was an exciting matchup, especially when you consider the fact that it was the amateur debut for both fighters. Both of them show promise, and Cowan has the potential to go big, perhaps one day we will see Hailey Cowan step into the Octagon of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Thanks for reading.