UFC Fight Night 156: Shevchenko vs. Carmouche II - Predictions and Picks
Despite being an ESPN+ Fight Night show, this one is also pretty loaded, with a Flyweight title fight at the top of the card in the form of Valentina Shevchenko vs. Liz Carmouche. It’s the first time the UFC has put a title fight onto an ESPN+ card since their debut on the streaming service back in January.
Overall, despite a lot of injury issues, this one looks like it could be a lot of fun. Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night 156: Shevchenko vs. Carmouche II.
#1 Valentina Shevchenko vs. Liz Carmouche
For years the UFC has made a habit of allowing their champions to attempt to avenge losses they suffered earlier in their careers, even if the fighter who gave them that loss doesn’t necessarily deserve of a title shot.
Chuck Liddell, for example, was matched with Jeremy Horn in 2005 despite Horn having been away from the UFC for four years, while more recently, Stipe Miocic was given the chance to avenge his loss to Junior Dos Santos despite the Brazilian being on the shelf for more than a year beforehand.
This fight definitely belongs in that kind of ilk. Perhaps that’s harsh to Carmouche, who has won her last two fights, but then she lost her Flyweight debut to Alexis Davis prior to that and in reality, it’s hard to argue that she deserves a title shot right now.
But then Flyweight isn’t the most well-settled division right now, and despite having just one title defense it’s already beginning to feel like Shevchenko could be the kind of dominant champ who can chew up a challenger every few months or so. So why not let her attempt to avenge the only pre-UFC loss in her career?
For me, it’s almost not even worth considering their first fight – back in 2010 – because there seems to be practically no footage of it, and while Carmouche won a second-round TKO, most mentions of the fight tend to suggest that Shevchenko was winning the fight until being caught by an up-kick – one that ‘Bullet’ has claimed was illegal – that caused a fight-ending cut.
If that was indeed the case, then it’s hardly surprising. Simply put, Shevchenko seems to be one of the most skilled fighters in the entire sport right now. A phenomenal kickboxer who possesses incredible movement and timing, she’s got a crazy amount of kickboxing titles to her name and comfortably outpointed Holly Holm on the feet in their 2016 clash. Sure, she doesn’t necessarily have a lot of one-shot knockout power – her insane head kick KO of Jessica Eye aside – but nobody’s come close to truly out striking her in the UFC.
Even Amanda Nunes had a ton of trouble with her despite Shevchenko being far smaller than the current Bantamweight and Featherweight champ.
Their first fight saw Nunes struggle on the feet and manage to win a decision based on her groundwork, and while the Brazilian won a decision in their rematch – basically a pure kickboxing match – it was fought at a tepid pace and the judges could easily have gone the other way.
That was of course at 135lbs, but at 125, Shevchenko is even more of a problem for her opponents. Her wrestling has always been surprisingly strong – she out-grappled Sarah Kaufman comfortably in her UFC debut – but at Flyweight she’s more physically powerful than the majority of her opponents and thus far it’s shown; she destroyed the overmatched Priscila Cachoeira on the ground and also used her takedowns to win the title in her fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Carmouche meanwhile has essentially been the same fighter since she debuted in the UFC back in 2013; powerful in the clinch, great cardio, and heavy strikes, but vulnerable against opponents she can’t physically overwhelm.
She’s been more active since moving to 125lbs, but her last fight against Lucie Pudilova was somewhat worrying; essentially she won the fight largely by stalling the Czech fighter out in both the clinch and on the ground, while all the real damage was done by Pudilova.
The question here is basically whether Carmouche can physically control Shevchenko, as that’s her only path to victory – I think she’s outmatched in every single area outside of that – and I honestly can’t see her doing it.
Shevchenko seems as physically strong as any other fighter at 125lbs, I think she’s already beaten two fighters I’d class above Carmouche in Jedrzejczyk and Eye, and really for me, it depends on whether she can pick up a stoppage.
Given Carmouche’s toughness – she’s never been TKO'd and has only been submitted twice – it’d be a real boon if Shevchenko can stop her, but I suspect more that we’ll see ‘Bullet’ pick the challenger apart for a lopsided decision.
The Pick: Shevchenko via unanimous decision