MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 247, a five-round women’s flyweight title bout between champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Katlyn Chookagian. The event takes place on Saturday, February 8 at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Valentina Shevchenko (-1100)
Shevchenko (18-3) is the UFC women’s flyweight champion. The 31-year-old Kyrgyzstan native is 7-2 overall in the UFC including a perfect 4-0 mark at 125lbs. Her notable victories include Holly Holm, Julianna Pena, Joann Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Eye and Sarah Kaufman, with both her UFC losses coming to double champ Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko is, quite simply, one of the most well-rounded and dangerous female fighters in MMA. She is accurate and powerful with her striking and is able to keep the majority of her fights standing if she wants to. But if she wants to switch things up she is able to utilize an underrated grappling game and get the fight to the mat. Shevchenko looks like she could hold the flyweight title for a long time and beating Chookagian would push her one step closer to catching Nunes in the female pound-for-pound rankings.
Katlyn Chookagian (+700)
Chookagian (13-2) is one of the top women’s flyweight contenders in the UFC. The 31-year-old American is 6-2 in the UFC including a 4-1 record at 125lbs. Some of her notable wins include Alexis Davis and Joanne Calderwood, with losses to Jessica Eye and Liz Carmouche. Chookagian is essentially a point fighter who uses a volume striking attack to outpoint her opponents on the feet and win decisions. She has 10 wins by decision in her career including all six of her UFC victories. In fact, all eight of her UFC fights have gone the distance. She has not shown any finishing ability at the highest level of the sport which puts a cap on how high she can go in this division. She earned this title shot by beating the other contenders, but it’s hard to see her winning the belt.
Fight Breakdown: The betting odds for this fight are heavily skewed in Shevchenko’s direction and for good reason. She is so much more well-rounded and dangerous than Chookagian that it’s hard to see the challenger putting up much of a fight here. On the feet, Shevchenko is the more accurate and powerful striker and she has the defense to avoid any of Chookagian’s shots. On the ground, Shevchenko has the better wrestling and also the superior grappling game if it gets to that position. Chookagian feasts on beating opponents with a volume striking attack but that doesn’t seem very likely to happen here given how dangerous Shevchenko is on the feet. The bigger question is does Shevchenko finish the fight or does it go the distance? Considering Chookagian’s fights typically go the distance it seems likely that will be the case here. I wouldn’t be shocked if Shevchenko was able to get a stoppage win, but more likely than not I see Shevchenko outstriking Chookagian on the feet and mixing in some takedowns for a unanimous decision victory.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko wins via unanimous decision