Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight warriors Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko will rematch TONIGHT (July 8, 2017) at UFC 213 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the time since their first match, both women have improved and found real success. Nunes tore through two of the best women to ever compete, knocking around and stopping them in short fashion. Shevchenko’s wins were not quite as brutal, but she did take out a pair of top-ranked Bantamweights in impressive fashion. Those wins lead us to a clear match up the division’s top two fighters, and it should be a great scrap.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each woman.
Key Wins: Ronda Rousey (UFC 207), Miesha Tate (UFC 200), Valentina Shevchenko (UFC 196), Sara McMann (UFC Fight Night 73)
Key Losses: Cat Zingano (UFC 178), Sarah D'Alelio (Invicta FC 4), Alexis Davis (Strikeforce: Barnett vs Kharitonov)
Keys to Victory: Nunes is one of the biggest women in her division, and she ranks highly in athleticism. The Brazilian comes from a grappling background and is quite effective in that area, but lately she’s been relying more on her basic-but-effective kickboxing.
In this bout, a mix of both will be necessary to win.
If Nunes walks forward and tries to dive into the clinch, she’ll exhaust herself and eat counter shots in the process. Nunes has the size and striking necessary to compete with Shevchenko, particularly early on when she’s fresh.
That said, Shevchenko isn’t going to melt after absorbing a few punches like Nunes’ recent opponents. Nunes doesn’t have a style built to win five round decisions, meaning a finish in the first couple rounds is almost mandatory. Her best chance to accomplish that is to score a takedown of some kind — either from the clinch or off a kick like last time — and then strangle the kickboxer.
Key Wins: Holly Holm (UFC on FOX 20), Julianna Pena (UFC on FOX 23), Sarah Kaufman (UFC on FOX 17)
Key Losses: Amanda Nunes (UFC 196)
Keys to Victory: Shevchenko is an extremely decorated kickboxer with some grappling experience as well. In the cage, that translates into a very accurate counter striking game with some sneaky takedowns mixed in.
To be frank, Shevchenko would have easily won the first fight if given another two rounds to work. Nunes was barely moving by round three, and Shevchenko chased her around the cage and put a beating on her for a majority of that round.
For Shevchenko, it’s all about making Nunes work and surviving the early storm. On her feet, Shevchenko is dangerous and experienced enough that she can do just fine even in the early goings, but the biggest threat Nunes offers is her top game. Nunes did a lot of damage and threatened with submissions last time around, which dug a very deep hole for Shevchenko.
With that in mind, Shevchenko just needs to be careful in the clinch and with her kicks. If she can avoid giving up easy takedowns — and has trained in this camp to return to her feet if put on her back — Nunes will have a very difficult time finishing Shevchenko.
Later in the fight, Shevchenko can turn it up and dominate.
Bottom Line: It’s a really great match up for the Bantamweight strap.
This is Nunes’ chance to really prove herself as a dominant champion. If she defeats Shevchenko, she’s taken out a majority of her division’s top contenders. Holly Holm is perhaps the only one left, but she hasn’t been all that impressive lately.
Alternatively, a loss definitely sets her back. Nunes still wouldn’t be far off from another title shot — be it a trilogy fight or 145 lbs. appearance — but it takes away from the unstoppable aura that Nunes has going right now.
As for Shevchenko, this is a chance to set the record straight. She’s perhaps the most technical female fighter in the world, and this bout is the ultimate test of whether her technique can overcome a serious size advantage. Plus, if she wins this belt, there’s a great chance for her to drop to the newly created Flyweight division and capture a second one.
If Shevchenko loses to Nunes a second time, that drop to 125 lbs. should happen sooner than later.
TONIGHT at UFC 213, Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko will rematch with a belt on the line. Who will have her hand raised?