UFC 258 Breakdown: Miranda Maverick vs Gillian Robertson

Dec. 22, 2021

This weekend is UFC 258: Usman vs Burns so I'll be doing three separate breakdowns for the event: Usman vs Burns, Maycee Barber vs Alexa Grasso and Miranda Maverick vs Gillian Robertson.

If you missed out on my breakdown last week of Alistair Overeem vs Alexander Volkov, here is a little context of what I am doing. To create the following analysis, I watched every fight of both fighters and mixed in my own visual analysis with the statistical breakdowns I created for them. Statistical analytics were drawn from my Judging Model as well as my new Fighter Accumulated Strategy and Tactics (FAST) model. I will be breaking down each fighter's past high level strategy and specific fight tactics and then investigating their ratings based on their round win percentage as determined by the Judging Model.

Miranda Maverick

First up, Miranda Maverick. Because we only have a single round of data to analyze for her, I will only apply my visual scouting and draw conclusions from there.

To analyze Miranda, I watched all of her fights in Invicta as well as her lone round in the UFC. This article will also differ from past and future breakdowns because of how new Miranda is as a professional. What stood out to me across her fights is how rapidly she has progressed as a striker. She started out looking like a young Ronda Rousey, bullying her opponents with her strength and grappling skills, but has really put in the work and developed into a solid Muay Thai striker.

Maverick’s power jumps off the screen but is not just limited to striking as she's shown overpowering ability in the clinch and in BJJ situations where she regularly leverages her technical skills to get into a position where she can ragdoll her opponent. Maverick possesses an aggressive ground game where she looks to maul and submit her opponents rather than just lay on them. She is not a point fighter but rather a bonafide finisher.

Watching her unanimous decision win versus Gabby Romero back in July 15 of 2017 and then comparing that to her first round TKO via doctor stoppage over Liana Jojua, it is almost like watching two different strikers. What stands out his her willingness to trade and the crispness of her strikes. Miranda could steer into her power and use it as a crutch but she instead chooses to improve her technical striking and enhance it with her natural power making her a truly dangerous striking threat.

I have written a lot about her striking but that is truly only a portion of her talent. She is a standout grappler with a focus on BJJ. Maverick’s strength makes her a huge threat to take her opponent's back where she takes a balanced approach to striking and submission attempts. She has two rear naked chokes on her resume as well as two arm bar finishes. Her guard is extremely active, again displaying the aggressive approach she takes to fighting. I came away from her fights saying to myself that I wouldn’t be surprised to see her fighting for the flyweight title by end of 2022. Her mix of physical gifts and technical skills profile her as a surefire contender at the top of the UFC women’s flyweight division.

The UFC matchmakers made a fantastic decision matching her up against Gillian Robertson in my opinion. Gillian’s fantastic skills on the ground will allow analysts like me to gauge how Miranda’s grappling skills transition to the UFC level while giving her an opponent that will really test her balanced MMA skillset. This is putting the cart a bit before the horse but should Maverick win this weekend and Alexa Grasso lose, I would kill to see the two of them compete next. I will go more in depth in my article on the Grasso and Barber matchup but Grasso would be a fantastic developmental fight for Maverick to improve her striking arsenal.

Gillian Robertson

Now onto Gillian Robertson. I will be upfront and say that I am a huge fan of Gillian's MMA approach. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to break this fight down was to scout Maverick but also to watch the totality of her cage time to really delve deep into her skill set. Robertson has top 5 flyweight level grappling skills but has a little ways to go in the striking department. Opponents know exactly where she wants to go every round but that doesn’t mean they can stop her. Her takedown skills are exemplary and utilizes trips to great effect when finishing her attempts. I consistently wrote in my notes that she slices through her opponents into mount like a warm knife through butter. She will strike in this position some but generally prefers submission attempts and top control. Robertson’s ground game reminds me a bit of Curtis Blaydes; both fighters focus heavily on never getting out of position and prefer top control to overcommitting to striking or pushing too hard for a submission.

Gillian’s striking arsenal is largely built around enabling her to get opponents into a situation where they can be taken down. Drawn out fire fights are not in Robertson’s repertoire as it currently stands and she has had her chin tested by multiple opponents in the UFC. The Maycee Barber fight stood out to me as highlighting this soft spot.

But there are tons of opportunities in this area in my opinion. Gillian’s striking portfolio would be heavily augmented by developing a strong leg/calf kicking game. Utilizing the leg kick would limit her opponent's mobility and striking power leading to less stuns and an easier takedown target. Her height is above average for the division but has a reach that is 2 inches shorter than her height, likely leading to some issues with keeping fighters at range. Gillian can offset this drawback by utilizing leg kicks the way that Volkanovski did against Holloway in their first fight or by hitting her opponents on their jab entry to eventually wrestle them up against the cage. If I were Robertson, I would be watching tons of Volkanovski tape to model my striking around his.

Judging model

Gillian Robertson offensive strategy
Gillian Robertson offensive strategy
Strategic Class Number of Rounds Win % % of Total Rounds
Grappling Heavy 8 75% 50%
Balanced Grappler 5 60% 31%
Balanced Striker 2 50% 13%
Striking Heavy 1 0% 6%

As we can see, half of Gillian’s rounds are classified as Grappling Heavy, which are rounds where she chooses to spend greater than 90% of her cage time in a control position against the cage or on the ground. This fits into my visual study of hers but also of note is that she has only one round that was Striking Heavy which was against Maycee Barber where she got TKO’d.

Gillian Robertson opponent strategy
Gillian Robertson opponent strategy
Opponent Strategic Class Number of Rounds Win % % of Total Rounds
Striking Heavy 10 80% 62.5%
Grappling Heavy 3 0% 19%
Balanced Striker 2 50% 12.5%
Balanced Grappler 1 100% 6%

Fighters choose, 62.5% of the time, to fight Gillian through a Striking Heavy approach but she wins them at a rate of 80% which is a fantastic striking defense score. However, as stated in the visual scouting, there are still holes in this realm that Gillian can cover up to really start dominating her opponents even further.

FAST model

Gillian Robertson offensive tactics
Gillian Robertson offensive tactics
Strategic Class Offensive Tactical Class Number of Rounds Win % % of Total Rounds
Grappling Heavy Ground and Pound 5 100% 31.2%
Balanced Grappler High Output 3 33% 18.8%
Grappling Heavy Head Hunter 3 33% 18.8%
Striking Heavy Balanced 1 0% 6.2%
Balanced Grappler Anaconda 1 100% 6.2%
Balanced Grappler Ground and Pound 1 100% 6.2%
Balanced Striker Clinch 1 100% 6.2%
Balanced Striker High Output Head Hunter 1 0% 6.2%

Breaking down Gillian’s offense further, my FAST models describe her tactics mainly as ground and pound, high output and ground based headhunter. She is an extremely effective ground and pound fighter but her high output rounds and head hunting could use some work from an efficiency standpoint.

Gillian Robertson opponent tactics
Gillian Robertson opponent tactics
Opponent Strategic Class Defensive Tactical Class Number of Rounds Win % % of Total Rounds
Striking Heavy Head Hunter 5 100% 31.2%
Striking Heavy Clinch 3 67% 18.8%
Striking Heavy Ground and Pound 2 50% 12.5%
Balanced Grappler High Output 1 100% 6.2%
Balanced Striker Anaconda 1 0% 6.2%
Balanced Striker High Output Head Hunter 1 100% 6.2%
Grappling Heavy Ground and Pound 1 0% 6.2%
Grappling Heavy High Output 1 0% 6.2%
Grappling Heavy Tree Chopper 1 0% 6.2%

Finally, breaking down Gillian’s defense from a tactical perspective, most fighters choose to attempt to ground and pound, clinch or standing head hunt against her. She is efficient at defending against these tactics especially standing head hunters who leave themselves open to her takedown game.


Bottom line: Gillian Robertson is an extremely effective ground fighter with average level striking skills that open up her takedown options. She is facing off with a fighter in Maverick who is effective anywhere in the cage due to her technical and physical prowess. I project that Maverick should use her takedown defense and striking arsenal to keep Gillian at distance where Maverick’s slick Muay Thai skills can go to work. Personally, I see this fight looking more like the Robertson versus Barber fight where Maverick keeps Robertson at range and attacks with leg and body strikes trying to get Gillian to drop her hands before attacking the head for a finish by KO/TKO. Maverick has shown a willingness to go at strong grappling opponents in the past so I would not be surprised at all to see Maverick attack a takedown early instead and then have the two of them put on a BJJ clinic for three rounds.

Overall, Maverick has more paths to victory, striking or grappling, than Gillian so I would project a victory by Maverick.

Fighters Mentioned: