Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight talents Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Aug. 10, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 156 from inside Antel Arena in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Shevchenko very nearly captured the title while undersized at 135 pounds, so her dominance in her proper weight class has hardly been unexpected. In her three bouts at Flyweight, Shevchenko has picked up two violent finishes and and easy decision victory, never looking particularly troubled at any point. Looking knock Shevchenko from her perch will be Carmouche, once again pulled up from the undercard and given a seemingly impossible task. Carmouche was too small for Bantamweight as well, and she’s been better able to impose her game and physicality against opponents more her size as well.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 231), Holly Holm (UFC on FOX 20), Julianna Pena (UFC on FOX 23), Jessica Eye (UFC 238), Sarah Kaufman(UFC on FOX 17)
Key Losses: Amanda Nunes (UFC 215, UFC 196)
Keys to Victory: Shevchenko is an assassin, the most efficient fighter on the roster. The Southpaw counter striker generally keeps it relatively simple in nailing her opponent with kicks at range and landing the check hook as she advances, and lately Shevchenko’s tricky clinch game has become a bigger part of her offense.
In this bout, Shevchenko has a simply massive advantage at range. Carmouche does not close the distance particularly well: she tends to wing a couple big hooks and then rush straight forward. That approach works against a lot of fighters, but against someone with the ability to dig a couple counter shots then angle off, it should leave Carmouche reaching for air frequently.
If Shevchenko can deny the clinch a few times, it will force Carmouche into a kickboxing match. At that point, Shevchenko should continue taking away Carmouche’s best weapons with counters. At distance, that’s the low kick, so Shevchenko should make it a point to check/evade the low kicks and then fire back with a combination.
Should all of Carmouche’s offense be used against her, “GirlRilla” will be in a truly terrible position.
Key Wins: Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 205), Jessica Andrade (UFC on FOX 8), Jennifer Maia (UFC Fight Night 133), Lauren Murphy (UFC Fight Night 63)
Key Losses: Ronda Rousey (UFC 157), Alexis Davis (UFC Fight Night 123, UFC Fight Night 31), Miesha Tate (UFC on FOX 11)
Keys to Victory: Though not an expert kickboxer, Carmouche has done a nice job of taking the base of her stand up game and improving upon it. Overall, Carmouche is a clinch specialist, where she does a nice job of mixing up trips and body locks to overpower opponents.
First and foremost, there’s absolutely one easy decision I’d like to see Carmouche make from the first bell: fight from the Southpaw stance. Carmouche fought much of her bout with Pudilova as a leftie, and it would be a wise move here. Standing Southpaw will limit the effectiveness of Shevchenko’s dangerous left kick, and generally Southpaws perform worse against their own stance.
It’s not like Carmouche is going to win the stand up anyway, it’s merely a requirement to get her to the clinch. Carmouche has to be aggressive in the clinch in the hopes of drawing out offense from Shevchenko. If Shevchenko is looking for trips and throws, she’s more likely to expose her own hips in the process.
Carmouche has to gain top position to win, and she must take risks for that to happen.
Bottom Line: If nothing else, it’s a chance for Shevchenko to avenge an early and controversial loss.
Personally, I love Valentina Shevchenko’s cold effectiveness and remarkable accuracy, but I understand fully that this is a divisive topic. Against Carmouche — who is really not one to throw a ton of volume or push a wild pace — this could very well end up as a fairly slow kickboxing match with some clinching thrown in. Hopefully the end result is a fun fight or dramatic finish, but Shevchenko seems primed for another dominant title defense.
Carmouche has been given a second chance to play spoiler at a championship level. To her credit, she went after it last time, taking Rousey’s back and locking in a tight crank submission early in the bout. If she approaches this bout with the same level of intensity and aggression, Carmouche gives herself the best chance possible at upsetting the champion and walking away with gold.
At UFC Fight Night 156, Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche will rematch in the main event. Which woman will leave the cage strapped with gold?