Valentina Shevchenko has appeared impervious in her UFC tenure to anyone not named Amanda Nunes but can the ‘Bullet’ extend her undefeated run to an impressive five fights in a row agains the teak-tough Katlyn Chookagian in this weekend’s UFC 247 co-main event?
Shevchenko has held the women’s 125-pound title since since late 2018 when she renewed a rivalry with former strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk which had begun when they met on the kickboxing circuit prior to their onset of their MMA careers and, just as it was in those days, it was Shevchenko who proved too much for the Pole, winning a unanimous decision after five rounds of action.
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She has since defender the title belt on two occasions — a vicious head kick knockout of Jessica Eye last summer was followed up by a slightly more laboured performance against Liz Carmouche in August — but faces a different kind of test at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas late Saturday night.
Since suffering a defeat of her own (a split decision) against Carmouche in November 2016, Chookagian has lost just once in the following years but perhaps a point of concern for her supporters will be the fact this came to Jessica Eye in December two years ago — a fighter who Shevchenko breezed past in July.
However, wins against Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia (both by decision) have earned her a spot in the limelight against one of the most fearsome female fighters on the planet.
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Who is favourite to win?*
According to oddsmaker Parimatch, the champion is the overwhelming favourite to defend her flyweight crown against Chookagian at UFC 247.
Shevchenko: 1.07 or 7/100
Chookagian: 14.0 or 13/1
How will the finish come?
Despite earning finishes in the first seven fights of her career, Shevchenko has become increasingly reliant on decision wins as the competition has become more robust in the UFC. She has two finishes in her last four fights however (against Eye and Priscilla Cachoeira) but a repeat of that against the durable Chookagian appears unlikely, on paper at least.
Chookagian has gone to a decision in all eight of her UFC appearances thus far, with the only two defeats on her career record coming by way of split decision — and there is a strong case to suggest that this particular fight will go the 25-minute duration too.
Shevchenko by KO/TKO/DQ: 4.35 or 67/20
Shevchenko by submission: 5.25 or 17/4
Shevchenko by decision: 1.74 or 37/50
Chookagian by KO/TKO/DQ: 23.0 or 22/1
Chookagian by submission: 25.0 or 24/1
Chookagian by decision: 16.0 or 15/1
Our best bet
Such is the backing for Shevchenko ahead of this fight that the odds of her getting the win aren’t particularly attractive but the 17/4 price on Shevchenko to win by submission seems like good value. The fact that Chookagian has never been finished in her professional career suggests that this is most likely heading to another 25-minute fight. The wise money is on Valentina Shevchenko to earn the third defence of her 125-pound title, and take all five rounds in doing so.
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*Please note: The odds presented in this article are subject to change and are presented in both decimal and fractional format.