UFC on Fox 20 Breakdown: Holly Holm vs Valentina Shevchenko

holly-holmsPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC on Fox 20 as former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm fights for the first time since losing her championship against fellow top ten bantamweight Valentina Shevchenko.   Holly Holm (Record: 11-3, -160 Favorite, Fighter Grade: B) The New Mexico born and raised fighter is fighting for the first time since losing her championship to Miesha Tate earlier this year. Holm had been undefeated in MMA and rarely tested prior to that fight. Saenz entered the UFC with solid wrestling accolades having competed in wrestling collegiately at Northern Colorado and Arizona State. He’s done very well in that regard in the UFC successfully securing 40% of his takedown attempts and averaging 2.25 takedowns per 15 minutes in the cage. Where Saenz has surprised is in the standup. He puts out a relentless pace landing a terrific 4.28 significant strikes a minute in the cage. He’s a fighter that doesn’t allow his opponent an opportunity to rest. It’s that tenacity that really turned heads in his fight with Faber. Saenz has proven battle tested and is a difficult fighter to finish. From a technical stand point, Saenz is not a fighter that jumps off the paper. But his work ethic has certainly proven him to be a top 15 bantamweight in the world.   Valentina Shevchenko (Record: 21-11, +140 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C) A highly regarded muay thai, Shevchenko has now dedicated her time fully to MMA. She holds a 14-2 record inside the cage. She holds a quality win over Sarah Kaufmann. Her only career losses are to former title contender Liz Carmouche and current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. Holm is one of the best female boxers in American history. She holds a 33-2 career record in boxing and had won many world championships in the sport including the WBA, WBC, and WBF Welterweight world titles. She hasn’t been the most active striker while in the cage, instead she uses a more calculated approach. Defensively, she uses range extremely well and keeps opponents on the outside. Her low strikes absorbed ratio of just 2.07 speaks well of that. Combine that with a 67% success rate in defending strikes and it shows just how good Holm is from a defensive standpoint. Where Holm has looked vulnerable is on the ground. The two times Tate took her to the canvas; she struggled mightily with top pressure and eventually succumbed to a submission. Match-up One is a world champion in muay thai while the other is a world champion in boxing. Both of these fighters are great competitors, but there are definitely advantages for the Albuquerque, New Mexico based bantamweight in this one. First and foremost is her size and strength advantage. Holm is a few inches taller and holds a couple inch reach advantage. For a fighter who excels at range striking, any size advantage is important to her. Shevchenko needs to get inside and clinch to have success in this bout. She struggled to do that against Amanda Nunes and there’s no reason to believe she’ll have much success in doing so against Holly Holm. Look for a slow start to this fight as each of the fighters looks to feel out their opponents. As the fight progresses, I expect Holm to begin to have some success with her range striking. Shevchenko will struggle to land as Holm will move effectively and not allow herself to get into the clinch. Ultimately I see this fight going the distance with Holm winning a clear decision on the scorecards in an otherwise uneventful fight.

Written by Jay Primetown

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