MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 238, a five-round women’s flyweight title fight between champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Jessica Eye. The event takes place this Saturday, June 8 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Valentina Shevchenko (-1300)
Shevchenko (16-3) is a 31-year-old native of Kyrgyzstan who is the UFC women’s flyweight champion. She has a 5-2 overall record in the Octagon that includes notable wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Holly Holm, Julianna Pena and Sarah Kaufman, with both of her losses to double champ Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko is one of the most well-rounded women’s MMA fighters in the world. She comes from a striking background but has exhibited a tremendous ground game during her MMA career as well. Out of her 16 career victories she has finished 11 fights and has only been stopped once in her career, by Liz Carmouche way back in 2010. Many considered Shevchenko to be the second-best women’s bantamweight in the world behind Nunes and since moving down to flyweight she has looked unstoppable. After defeating Jedrzejczyk to win the vacant flyweight title in her last fight, she now makes her first title defense against Eye and she enters the bout as a massive -1300 betting favorite.
Jessica Eye (+850)
Eye (14-6, 1 NC) is a 32-year-old native of America who is one of the top-five ranked flyweights in the world. She has a 4-5, 1 NC record in the Octagon that includes notable wins over Leslie Smith, Katlyn Chookagian and Jessica-Rose Clark. As a bantamweight, Eye was on the brink of being cut as she struggled with a 1-5, 1 NC record and looking back it’s amazing she was able to hang on to a spot on the UFC roster for so long. But the matchmakers saw something in her game and decided to keep her around for creation of the flyweight division, and Eye has made good so far with three straight wins, albeit all by decision. She has a very solid boxing game, though she lacks in finishing power. She has mostly fought to decisions and that has hurt her in her career as she’s lost a number of close fights when the judges came into play. And that lack of finishing ability could hurt her here as she takes a massive step up in competition and fights Shevchenko, who is going to go hard for 25 minutes. There’s a reason Eye is listed as a +850 underdog at the sportsbooks.
Fight breakdown: Shevchenko is a massive favorite to win and for good reason as she’s the more well-rounded and dangerous fighter in this matchup. If Eye were to win, it would be arguably the biggest upset in UFC history, and I can’t see that happening. Shevchenko is better everywhere the fight goes, and she should be able to win this fight in dominant fashion. I think Shevchenko will outstrike Eye, she’ll outwrestle her, and she’ll beat her on the ground. The question is, does she finish the fight or does it go to decision? I tend to favor a finish just because I think Eye will tire once the fight reaches the championship rounds and that’s where Shevchenko tends to shine. I expect Shevchenko to pour on the pressure for the full five rounds and I doubt Eye will be able to keep up with her relentless attack. Look for Shevchenko to get this fight to the mat and get a late finish. I’ll go with a submission but could see a TKO as well. Considering how high the moneyline is, it might be better to take a look at the props and totals if you are interested in betting on this fight.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko via Submission