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UFC 238 card: Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Eye full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight veterans Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Eye will collide this Saturday (June 8, 2019) at UFC 238 from inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

After coming within an inch of capturing the Bantamweight crown — and frankly, being the only woman to to actually challenge Amanda Nunes in years — Shevchenko shed the additional 10 pounds. Her reign seemed certain, and it did indeed take just two victories and less than one year for “Bullet” to capture the crown. Looking to defy the absolutely massive betting odds will be Eye, whose drop to Flyweight has reinvigorated her career. “Evil” went from losing four straight at 135 pounds to winning her previous three to earn this title shot, meaning we have the setup for a real Rocky story here if Eye can make the upset happen.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:

Valentina Shevchenko

Record: 16-3
Key Wins: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 231), Holly Holm (UFC on FOX 20), Julianna Pena (UFC on FOX 23), Sarah Kaufman(UFC on FOX 17)
Key Losses: Amanda Nunes (UFC 215, UFC 196)
Keys to Victory: Shevchenko has perhaps the most ridiculously varied set of credentials of anyone on the roster. The Southpaw began training martial arts at the age of five and never really stopped, gathering experience in Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Judo, and more before eventually putting it all together in the cage.

Opposite Eye, the standard Shevchenko strategy should work wonderfully. Shevchenko is a very efficient fighter, loathe to throw any unnecessary strikes. As a result, she’ll poke at her foe from range, really baiting her opponent to reach, at which point Shevchenko will counter.

If her foe pushes forward too much, Shevchenko will wrap up the clinch and land a throw.

Eye is primarily a boxer, which plays into Shevchenko’s longer range and more varied kickboxing well. There’s a reason that Shevchenko is roughly a 13:1 favorite — it’s up to Eye to force her to do something different, otherwise “Bullet” will cruise to her first title defense.

Jessica Eye

Record: 14-6 (1)
Key Wins: Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 231), Jessica Rose-Clark (UFC Fight Night 132), Kalindra Faria (UFC Fight Night 124), Leslie Smith (UFC 180)
Key Losses: Miesha Tate (UFC on FOX 16), Alexis Davis (UFC 170), Bethe Correia (UFC 203), Juliana Pena (UFC 192)
Keys to Victory: Eye has always been a sharp boxer with a fast jab, but at 135 pounds, her size saw her smothered by bigger foes on a few occasions. That’s less of an issue now, and Eye has also done a better job of maintaining her pace and activity, which has certainly been the deciding factor in some of her recent close decision wins.

Realistically, what is Eye’s best path to victory? From what I’ve seen, there are two paths to victory opposite Shevchenko: one must either take her down and secure a dominant position (Shevchenko is sometimes quick to expose her back), or keep the striking close enough that even a brief takedown will decide the round.

The latter is probably the more likely option for Eye. On the feet, Eye should be quick enough to compete with Shevchenko, particularly if she stays patient and refuses to open herself up to counters. At Flyweight, Eye has proven to have some real physicality as well, which has helped her wrestling considerably. If Eye can draw Shevchenko into something of a staring contest, a single takedown can shift the round to her favor.

Lots of booing is to be expected, but all that matters is a win!

Bottom Line: The Flyweight division is still figuring itself up.

Valentina Shevchenko seems posed for a dominant and lengthy reign at 125 pounds, but it hasn’t happened yet. This is her first title defense, her first opportunity to remind the other female Flyweights that she has no plans to forfeit her throne. Shevchenko has ambitious goals of long term dominance, and that really begins on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Eye is being overlooked by most due to her mediocre run at 135 pounds. She’s legitimately beaten a pair of the Top 5-ranked contenders to earn this shot, and her chance at defeating Shevchenko is no worse than most others in her division. It may be unlikely, but that’s the reason we hold the fight to find out precisely what Eye can bring to the table.

At UFC 238, Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Eye will meet in the co-main event. Which woman will have her hand raised?

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