MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 255, a five-round UFC women’s flyweight title fight between champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Jennifer Maia. The event takes place on Saturday, November 21 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Valentina Shevchenko (-1400)
Shevchenko (19-3) is the UFC women’s flyweight champion. The 32-year-old Kyrgyzstan native joined the UFC in 2015 and has since then racked up an 8-2 record in the promotion with wins over the likes of Holly Holm, Katlyn Chookagian, Jessica Eye, Liz Carmouche, Julianna Pena, and Sarah Kaufman. Her only two losses in the UFC came against double champion Amanda Nunes, and since moving down to 125lbs, Shevchenko is a perfect 5-0 with five dominant wins. Shevchenko is one of the most well-rounded and dangerous fighters the women’s divisions have ever seen. She is good everywhere. On the feet, she is highly skilled with her striking and she possesses KO power. On the ground, she has the wrestling to control her opponents and the submissions skills to tap them out. She also has a great chin, elite cardio, and that “it” factor. Shevchenko is one of the best women’s MMA fighters of all time and a win here over Maia helps to continue to cement her legacy.
Jennifer Maia (+925)
Maia (18-6-1) is the No. 3 ranked women’s flyweight. The 32-year-old Brazilian has been in the UFC since 2016 and she has racked up a 3-2 record in the Octagon with wins over Joanne Calderwood, Roxanne Modafferi, and Alexis Davis, with her losses to Katlyn Chookagian and Liz Carmouche. Maia is a highly-experienced women’s MMA veteran who has been in the game for over a decade. She is a former champion in Invicta FC who parlayed her success there into a UFC deal. So far in the Octagon, she has been inconsistent with her performances and has missed weight several times. But one of her best attributes is her submission game, and an upset win over Calderwood in her last outing was enough to bump Maia up to title contention in a shallow division. If she pulls off the upset over Shevchenko it will be one of the biggest upset wins to ever go down in the UFC.
Fight Breakdown: I view this fight as a mismatch just as the odds indicate. Aside from the win over Calderwood, Maia hasn’t impressed me all that much in the UFC. I don’t believe she has enough tools to remain competitive in this fight against Shevchenko, who is on an unreal tear these days. Shevchenko is so hard to fight because she is so incredibly well-rounded anywhere the fight goes. In this matchup, Shevchenko has the superior striking if the fight stays standing and the superior grappling if the fight hits the ground. Outside of a miracle submission, I don’t see how Maia wins this fight. I believe Shevchenko will use her striking attack to set up her wrestling and get this fight to the mat. I could see Shevchenko winning either by TKO or submission, but my hunch is a sub win.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko via submission