Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight strikers Valentina Shevchenko and Katlyn Chookagian will collide this Saturday (Feb. 8, 2020) at UFC 247 from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Just over a year ago, Shevchenko defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk to finally claim a UFC title. Last year, she picked up her first pair of title defenses, and it’s pretty incredible just how quickly Shevchenko has pulled ahead from her peers as a dominant ruler. Case in point: Chookagian is a qualified and deserving contender from an excellent camp, yet Shevchenko is a massive 11-1 favorite to retain her crown. Speaking of “Blonde Fighter,” Chookagian has won four of her last five bouts and shown some improvement in sitting down on her punches recently, a trait which will be pivotal if she’s to dethrone “Bullet.”
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), Liz Carmouche (UFC Fight Night 157), 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 has to rank highly among the most efficient fighters in UFC history. The former Muay Thai champion is an accurate counter striker who rarely over-extends, landing with great accuracy as she reads her opponent’s offense. In addition, Shevchenko is genuinely excellent in the clinch, where she’s frequently able to toss opponents.
Listen, I’m usually the one defending Shevchenko and her efficient style — I admire her precision greatly. That said, the Carmouche bout was a stinker, so here’s hoping Chookagian’s activity will draw more offense from the champion in this match up.
At any rate — and I say this as politely as possible — this seems like another layup for Shevchenko. Similar to the Holly Holm match up, Chookagian’s burst and kick style seems to lead her directly into the counters of Shevchenko.
Otherwise, Shevchenko would be wise to actively pursue the clinch and takedowns, which seem her best chance of finishing barring another high kick.
Key Wins: Joanne Calderwood (UFC 238), Jennifer Maia (UFC 244), Alexis Davis (UFC on FOX 30), Mara Romero Borella (UFC on FOX 27)
Key Losses: Jessica Eye (UFC 231), Liz Carmouche (UFC 205)
Keys to Victory: Chookagian is a distance kickboxer with a solid understanding of range and plenty of lengthy kicks. She moves well, fights smart, and generally works at a higher rate than opponents — a recipe for success against most of her peers.
Valentina Shevchenko is not most women.
Last week, Chookagian came out with a comment about refusing to “be entertaining and then lose.” I have no problems at all with the mentality overall, but against Shevchenko, it doesn’t seem like caution increases her odds. In fact, I would argue that opposite: Chookagian needs a home run, and that means swinging the damn bat
In Chookagian’s case, her best chance to sneak a head kick up and catch the champion’s chin. Choookagian generally does a nice job of hiding her head kicks with stance switches and puts them at the end of her combinations — great! The challenger should be kicking the mid-section too so as not to be overly predictable, but still, pull out every trick in the book to land a shin across the chin.
It’s another unlikely attempt to dethrone Valentina Shevchenko.
It’s pretty telling about the state of 125 lbs. when Shevchenko is seemingly in talks of fighting Nunes a third time and Roxeanne Modafferi is possibly the next contender in line. If Shevchenko dispatches of Chookagian with relative ease like the others, it’s another sign that Nunes is perhaps the only woman who can compete with her. That’s not to say it will be her next fight, but it’s just really hard to see Shevchenko struggle at 125 lbs. right now.
Chookagian is here to make me look stupid and prove the following paragraph hyperbolic nonsense. Fair play to “Blonde Fighter,” if she manages to capture the belt on Saturday night, it would be one of the greatest upsets of all time. A rematch would be likely, but regardless of what happened next, Chookagian would undoubtedly go down in MMA history for that victory alone.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 247 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
For the rest of the UFC 247 fight card and line up click here.
At UFC 247, Valentina Shevchenko and Katlyn Chookagian will meet in the co-main event. Which woman will leave with a golden belt?