MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 275, a five-round women’s flyweight title bout between champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Taila Santos. The event takes place on Saturday, June 11 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.
Valentina Shevchenko (-800)
Shevchenko (22-3) is the UFC women’s flyweight champion. The 34-year-old Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian fighter has been in the UFC since 2015 and since then she is 11-2 in the Octagon, including a perfect 8-0 record at 125lbs. Other than two competitive losses to Amanda Nunes at 135lbs, Shevchenko has been unstoppable in the Octagon. She has defeated the likes of Jessica Andrade, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Katlyn Chookagian, and she has barely been challenged at flyweight. Overall, Shevchenko is just a tremendous talent who has one of the most well-rounded skill sets in the game. She has incredible wrestling and phenomenal striking, and she has the cardio to go five hard rounds against anyone. Shevchenko has been a dominant champion for nearly four years now at 125lbs and it’s hard to see her losing to anyone in this weight class. Santos does represent one of the toughest fights that Shevchenko has had in her career. But until we see her actually falter in this weight division, it’s nearly impossible to pick against her, especially here as such a big favorite.
Taila Santos (+500)
Santos (19-1) is the No. 4 contender in the UFC women’s flyweight division. The 28-year-old Brazilian joined the UFC in 2019 after a successful stint on Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil, and since joining the UFC roster, Santos sports a 4-1 record. After losing to Mara Romero Borella in her debut by split decision, Santos has won her last four fights against Molly McCann, Gillian Robertson, Roxanne Modafferi, and Joanne Wood. Santos has shown a very well-rounded game that includes strong offensive wrestling skills, good striking, some power, and even submission prowess. She is very deserving of this title shot, but there’s no doubt Shevchenko is a big step up.
Fight Breakdown: I think Santos is a very good fight and one of the better opponents that Shevchenko has fought at 135lbs. I do think the line is a bit high here and that Santos is more of a live dog than the odds are indicating. That being said, I find it very difficult to pick against Shevchenko. She has looked amazing ever since joining the UFC, and she does have better wins than Santos on her resume. With her well-rounded game that includes elite striking and wrestling skills, Shevchenko is a tough matchup for anyone. Ultimately, I think Shevchenko mixes things up and grinds out a competitive decision. In Santos’ only loss to Borella, she was outwrestled a bit, and I believe the ground game is an area where Shevchenko will look to find success. Although Santos is strong on top, she isn’t the best off of her back, and Shevchenko has a high fight IQ to know that. Santos has the potential to pull off an upset, but I have to go with Shevchenko to win by decision.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko