Valentina Shevchenko will attempt to make the second defense of her UFC flyweight crown when she takes on Liz Carmouche in the UFC Uruguay headliner.
The fight is being billed as a rematch, a fact that may come as a surprise to those that aren’t aware of these two’s first meeting back in 2010 under the C3 Fights banner.
Carmouche was the one who managed to get her hand raised on that night, beating the Kyrgyzstani fighter by way of second-round doctor’s stoppage.
Now, as a massive underdog, she will look to earn the biggest win of her career by upsetting the odds and dethroning The Bullet.
If you know anything about the sitting champion, Valentina Shevchenko, then you’ll know that that will be a tall task. Technically proficient in every aspect of the mixed martial arts arsenal, Shevchenko seems to be growing into a finer force of destruction with each passing fight.
Last seen in action just over two months ago at UFC 238 in a win that saw her score a Knockout Of The Year contender against the completely outmatched Jessica Eye, who can blame her for trying to get back in there as quick as possible.
Those in the know will point to Valentina as one of the pound-f0r-pound most technical fighters alive, a truly complex puzzle that only seems to be growing in confidence with every display of dominance she can put together.
And while she has been thwarted by dual-weight champion Amanda Nunes twice in the past, fighting at flyweight truly does seem to suit her down to the ground.
Sure, the division is in its infancy, but even still, at this point, she would have to be considered a heavy betting favourite over each of those who reside beneath her in the rankings.
In a time where viable contenders are few and far between anything resembling a solid run of form will likely be enough to earn a crack at the title and in Liz Carmouche, we arguably have the most deserving challenger to Shevchenko’s throne.
She does hold a win over the champ, yes, but if I’m being completely honest, anything less than another clean win for Valentina will be an almighty shock.
Carmouche has been around the block more than once in the past – having famously welcomed women’s MMA to the UFC in an ill-fated showdown that ended with a submission win for the former champion Ronda Rousey in the opening round.
I really don’t think she has enough in her game to pose any problems to Shevchenko.
Securing takedowns will likely be her best path to victory here but after six years in the top flight of the UFC, expect the newer technology to comprehensively stamp out the old.
We’re going to come away from this one singing the champ’s praises once again, folks!
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko by second-round TKO
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena