Valentina Shevchenko has a chance to avenge one of her few MMA defeats against the veteran campaigner Liz Carmouche in Uruguay this weekend, with the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship on the line.
This looks set to be a very tough night and a very tall order for Liz ‘Girlrilla’ Carmouche. She may be a stalwart of the women’s ranks, and have a victory over Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko on her record, but the champion is soaring at the moment and a much improved fighter from when the two mixed martial artists last locked horns. That was almost nine years ago in their pre-UFC days, with Shevchenko only losing to the irrepressible Amanda Nunes since then, with one of those two decision defeats debatable and the other highly controversial.
Fight to go the distance
Bullet has dropped down to 125 pounds since her failed attempt to claim bantamweight gold, and she’s proceeded to stamp her authority all over her most natural division. The devastating head kick KO of #1 contender Jessica Eye in her last fight in June was one of the most brutal knockouts we’ve seen, and clearly demonstrated the Kyrgyzstani’s lethal striking prowess. Fast, powerful and a supremely talented counter-striker, Shevchenko is a decorated kickboxer and Muay Thai master. She’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC, and at 31, she’s getting better all the time.
Shevchenko to win on points
Carmouche, on the other hand, is looking to maintain her strength and conditioning at the age of 35. A tough military woman, she’s never been knocked out. The Louisiana native also secured a doctor’s stoppage TKO victory over Bullet in 2010, the only time Shevchenko has been stopped inside the Octagon. That, and the fact she’s coming into this fight on a high from back-to-back wins, may give the challenger some hope in what is Girlrilla’s second title fight, her other being the first ever women’s fight in the UFC against Ronda Rousey at UFC 157 in 2013.
Shevchenko to win by KO or TKO
However, Carmouche has lost six of her last 13 bouts. She’s 2-1 since dropping down to flyweight, but this looks like being a step too far for the division’s #3-ranked contender. While Girlrilla attempted to stoke the fires by claiming Shevchenko ‘hasn’t evolved much’ since their first meeting, that simply isn’t the case. Bullet has improved her all-round game while maintaining her eye-catching style with devastating counters, and that could lead to the first KO of Carmouche’s career.
Shevchenko to win in the fifth round
Liz Carmouche handed Valentina Shevchenko her first ever MMA defeat back in 2010, when the American secured a second-round TKO due to a doctor stoppage.
Shevchenko is 10-2 since that fight, only losing to bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes via two controversial decisions.
Carmouche meanwhile is 8-6 since beating Shevchenko, although she’s won her last two fights against Jennifer Maia and Lucie Pudiolva.
Carmouche has never been KO’d in MMA, with two of her six defeats coming by way of submission, and the other four via decision.
Shevchenko carries a 51% striking accuracy into this fight, along with a 47% grappling accuracy.
Carmouche trumps her opponent with a 57% striking accuracy and 68% grappling accuracy, although Shevchenko lands more significant strikes per minute – 3.36 to 2.49.
Valentina Shevchenko to win the fight
Bullet has made the flyweight division her own with a string of impressive victories over the likes of Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Eye, and she’s expected to continue her dominance at 125 pounds with a second successful defence of her title.
Liz Carmouche is a tough fighter and is likely to make this a real contest, but she’s a massive underdog with all of the best betting sites. Expect Shevchenko to prove her credentials with another masterclass of striking and counter-punches mixed in with some brutal head and body kicks.
John Abrams is a passionate sports fanatic who follows NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAB and Formula 1. A former sports trader, John has an unquestioned thirst for sports knowledge and often fills his time playing fantasy or placing wagers online.
All Predictions by John Abrams