Valentina Shevchenko will defend her title for the sixth time at UFC 266 this Saturday in the T-Mobile Arena of Las Vegas. The main card will be on pay-per-view and you can watch the prelims and early prelims on ESPN+. If you plan on a main-card wager, you’ll have to purchase the pay-per-view to bet on UFC 266.
Shevchenko’s adversities vs Murphy’s adversities
Murphy has split-decision wins over Andrea Lee and Joanne Calderwood, where both fighters were able to nullify her strengths in several parts of both of those fights. Murphy most recently faced Calderwwod at UFC 263 where she was the underdog if you took a chance on her in a bet online.
The first round was close and Calderwood was able to land some good shots using muay Thai technique that caught Murphy’s attention. I imagine the takedown early in the second round came at the advice of Murphy’s corner, recognizing she was losing some of the exchanges standing in the first round. I immediately thought betting online that the fight would go the distance would have been a good play.
When Murphy decided to use her size in the fight, she only had the advantage in the clinch against the fence and on the ground during the second round, but not for long. Calderwood held her own during the clinch in the middle of the octagon and inflicted damage of her own. You can make that same argument for Lee when she faced Murphy in her bout at UFC 247. Utilizing technique and landing shots to attempt to throw Murphy off her game can work.
Murphy deserves a ton of credit for the way she’s evolved exploring the sport of mixed martial arts at the late age of 26 back in 2010. She can use her size to her advantage when adversity is thrown her way and she’s durable as well. All that works well in a not-so-deep UFC flyweight division, not against Shevchenko.
Shevchenko is different
Shevchenko lost three fights against two fighters in her mixed martial arts career and the type of adversity she had was significantly bigger than anything Murphy has faced.
Shevchenko lost two fights by close decision to arguably the greatest female fighter of all time in Amanda Nunes. Nunes happens to be a two-division champion and there seems to be no fighter that seems to give her trouble. Shevchenko knows what strength feels like in the cage because she’s faced strong fighters like Nunes before. She faced a really strong fighter in her first loss against Liz Carmouche.
Shevchenko was definitely winning the fight with strikes. Carmouche admitted she was lucky the fight got to the ground. Carmouche didn’t necessarily show she had the advantage on the ground, she was lucky the fight got to the ground and was able to land an upkick, cutting Shevchenko and forcing a TKO doctor stoppage. Carmouche was relieved the fight got to the ground.
“I don’t think I had even sparred somebody who was a southpaw, let alone fought one,” Carmouche told ESPN. “I didn’t quite know what to do. Thankfully, we went to the ground, and I caught her with an upkick. It sliced her eye wide open.”
Carmouche faced Shevchenko in a rematch and could not use her strength to beat her. Murphy will be facing someone with strength and technique in Shevchenko and should be finished sooner rather than later. Shevchenko sees nothing Murphy can surprise her with. She doesn’t even find her to be one of the more durable fighters she’s faced.
“(One of the) more durable athletes that I’ve ever seen? I doubt (it),” Shevchenko told the media at the UFC 266 pre-fight press conference Wednesday. “More technical? I doubt. More well-rounded? I doubt. I don’t know. For all the years that I was fighting, it’s kind of hard to surprise me with something special if you are not a superhuman.
Expect a dominating performance by Schevchenko this Saturday. This should be the first time Murphy will be stopped in her career and it should be early.