Flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko (20-3-0) finally gets a challenger worth noting in former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (21-8-0). Yet despite Andrade’s notoriety, she’ll be another big underdog per the UFC betting lines at +325.
The defending champion will be -425, which will be the smallest she’ll be since she faced Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2018. While Andrade poses Shevchenko’s most dangerous threat, this should be another win for the Peruvian.
With each challenger she adds to her list, that inevitable trilogy against the double-champ Amanda Nunes draws closer.
- Date: Saturday, April 24, 10 p.m. ET
- Venue: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL, United States
- Watch on: Pay-per-view
Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Andrade
Weight Class: Flyweight (125)
Rounds: Five (Championship Fight)
Odds: Jessica Andrade +325, Valentina Shevchenko -450
Shevchenko remains a big online betting favorite thanks to being the best MMA fighter in terms of technique. Amanda Nunes, who was a much bigger fighter, had issues fighting her and remains her greatest adversary to this day.
Andrade is a different beast. The diminutive fighter is a battering ram with three of her last four victories coming by way of KO. That includes slamming Rose Namajunas to putting down the much-bigger Katlyn Chookagian with a well-placed body shot.
This clash of styles will be interesting on paper, but it may be just another testament to how far advanced Shev is.
Shevchenko: Unfinished Business
The woman nicknamed “Bullet” couldn’t have picked a better moniker. Not only is she a gun aficionado, but her precision is on-point. Her 2.98 significant strikes landed per minute (SLpM) may seem measly, but they don’t do justice to the types of strikes she’s landing.
Valentina Shevchenko est dangereuse, très dangereuse 😳.
— 𝗖𝗨𝗟𝗧𝗨𝗥𝗘 𝗠𝗠𝗔 🇫🇷 (@CultureMMA_) April 19, 2021
This is a fighter that’s landed head kicks, spinning wheel kicks, and spinning backfists seamlessly. There is almost no telegraphing. Her striking acumen is on a different tier and she just keeps getting better.
Shevchenko only absorbs 2.03 significant strikes per minute (SApM). That is a mind-boggling stat considering she’s fifth in the UFC in average fight time at 17:18. Opponents, no matter how athletic, powerful, or technical they are will have fits trying to outstrike her.
And in terms of the grappling, only Nunes has outdone her in this department. And speaking of “The Lioness”, this is the only fight to make if and when Shev wins in clinical fashion yet again.
Andrade: Challenger We Wanted
I don’t mean to speak for all MMA fans, but what I mean is that Andrade will not be shy and “play games” with Shevchenko. No. She will march her down looking to knock her out similarly to what she’s done in most if not all of her fights.
However, Andrade is giving up a lot of size here. She’s only 5-foot-1 and has a four-inch reach disadvantage. Normally, this hasn’t been a problem as she’s managed to successfully corner her opponents and beat them up. But Shev is a master at evading danger or turning her opponent’s aggression into her advantage.
Andrade has few options here. She will be losing the fight if she tries to play chess with Shevchenko. At the same time, if she headhunts or pursues the knockout too aggressively, Shev will just “dance” around her or even take her to the mat where the champion can use her size to control her.
But if any fighter has a “puncher’s chance”, it’s Andrade. Shevchenko has shown to have an iron chin and not even Nunes could hurt her. But if you’re backing Andrade, might as well go in on the prop for her to win via a finish at +500.
Shevchenko is the pick but I’m cheering for the fight to be interesting at least. Andrade put together a Fight of the Night against Jedrzejczyk in a losing cause and she could likely do the same here.
I don’t see how Andrade can close the distance on Shevchenko. The champ is too cunning and too smart. She’s usually two steps ahead of her opponent and can play the role of matador to the best.
This fight may resemble the Jedrzeczyk-Andrade fight or the recent Whittaker-Gastelum where the Aussie put on a masterclass performance against a spirited challenger. If you want a bit more value on Shev, bet the prop for her to win by KO or submission at +135 as she can likely ground Andrade and submit her.