MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 14, a five-round title fight between UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Liz Carmouche. The event takes place Saturday, August 10 at Antel Arena in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Valentina Shevchenko (-1275)
Shevchenko (17-3) is the UFC women’s flyweight champion. The 31-year-old native of Kyrgyzstan is 6-2 overall in the UFC. She has defeated Holly Holm, Joanna Jedrzejcyk, Jessica Eye, Sarah Kaufman, Julianna Pena and Priscila Cachoeira, with her lone two losses close decision defeats to double champ Amanda Nunes. Since moving down to flyweight last year, Shevchenko is a perfect 3-0 and looks unstoppable. In her last fight she had arguably the most devastating knockout in women’s MMA history when she head kicked Eye cold. Prior to that she showed that she can go a hard 25 minutes in her win over Jedrzejczyk, and her victory over Cachoeira showed how skilled she is on the ground. Shevchenko is a tremendous talent and has elite skills on the feet and on the ground. She has all the tools necessary to be a dominant champion at 125lbs for a long time.
Liz Carmouche (+825)
Carmouche (13-6) is one of the top flyweight contenders on the UFC roster. The 35-year-old American is 5-4 overall in the UFC. She has wins over Jessica Andrade, Lauren Murphy Katlyn Chookagian, Lucie Pudilova and Jennifer Maia, with her losses to Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Alexis Davis (twice). Carmouche has made a career out of being stronger than her opponents and using that physical strength to wear her opposition out. She is a strong wrestler who has shown submission and ground and pound skills in the past, but she hasn’t had a finish six years now. Carmouche is very durable and has good cardio and a strong chin, having never been finished. However, she lacks the dynamic finishing ability her opponent Shevchenko has. This is going to be a tough fight for Carmouche, and she’ll have to be at her absolute best if she wants to pull off the biggest upset of the year.
Fight Breakdown: These two previously met back in 2010, when both were fairly new to the sport. There is no video available on the fight, but various accounts of it say that Shevchenko was winning the fight until an upkick by Carmouche caught her and the doctor was forced to stop the fight due to a cut. While Carmouche may have won the first time these two met nearly a decade ago, both women are drastically different fighters now. Shevchenko is arguably the most dominant female fighter in the sport right now besides Amanda Nunes, while Carmouche has mostly turned into a gatekeeper. Although Carmouche won the first time, it’s hard to picture her winning this rematch. Shevchenko is fighting with so much confidence right now and is extremely dangerous anywhere the fight goes. Carmouche is able to use her size and strength to grind out most of her opponents, but that likely won’t work here against Shevchenko. Carmouche has not shown any ability to finish fights recently and is taking on one of the top finishers in the division in Shevchenko. I don’t see this fight going well for Carmouche and the only question to me is whether or not Shevchenko gets the finish. I believe she will. 25 minutes is a long time to be in there with her and although Carmouche is fairly durable, she has been finished before. I could see Shevchenko winning by TKO, but since I do believe there will be a fair bit of grappling in this fight I am leaning towards Shevchenko winning this fight by submission.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko wins via Submission