- Date & Location: Saturday, September 26 @ T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
- Odds: Valentina Shevchenko (-1500) vs. Lauren Murphy (+750) via Bovada
- Prediction: Shevchenko via knockout.
Two title fights take place at the top of the UFC 266 fight card. In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski faces the No. 2 ranked fighter in the official UFC 145-pound rankings, Brian Ortega. Before that fight takes place, UFC women’s flyweight title holder Valentina Shevchenko meets Lauren Murphy, who enters the matchup as the No. 3 ranked fighter in the UFC women’s 135-pound weight class.
Shevchenko won the vacant 125-pound title in December 2018. She has defended her crown five times since then. Her most recent win was an April 2021 second-round TKO win over Jessica Andrade.
Murphy has been working up her way toward a title shot since 2019 when she ended a 2-4 stretch with a TKO win over Mara Romero Borella. Murphy is on a five-fight winning streak. Her most recent fight, a June 2021 scrap opposite Joanne Calderwood ended with Murphy taking a split decision.
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SHEVCHENKO vs. MURPHY PREDICTION & PICK
Shevchenko has Murphy outmatched in this fight. Shevchenko is just too skilled and too technical for Murphy. If the champion properly prepares and puts together a solid defense in this fight, she should be able to win with relative ease.
It’s hard to overstate how much better Shevchenko is than the rest of the 125-pound division. The -1500 odds give a decent indication of her skill level as compared to Murphy, but even those odds underrepresent how good Shevchenko is. The 33-year-old has two losses in the UFC. Both those setbacks came at 135 pounds to Amanda Nunes, who is recognized as one of the best women competing in modern MMA. Both those losses came via decision. Shevchenko’s most recent setback to Nunes was a split decision defeat in 2017.
I don’t want to discount Murphy’s talent. She is a good fighter and has shown great tenacity and will. But she does not compare to Shevchenko.
Pick: Shevchenko -1500 via BetUS.
BETTING VALUE WITH SHEVCHENKO
Shevchenko is a 15-1 favorite, and that does not provide much value for Shevchenko. The better value in this one might be taking a chance at Shevchenko to win via stoppage, which is a possibility even though Murphy has never been finished. Another option might be to go with the over/under on the number of rounds the fight goes.
Shevchenko has seven knockouts, seven submissions and seven decision wins. During her current seven-fight winning streak, Shevchenko has three knockouts, one submission and three decisions. I think Shevchenko will get the finish within the first three rounds and I believe she will defeat Murphy via knockout.
Prediction: Shevchenko via knockout -1400 via BetOnline.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
If you consider MMA skills, Shevchenko is miles ahead of Murphy and any other woman competing at 125 pounds. At this point she is fighting for legacy. The only way I see Shevchenko losing this contest is if she takes Murphy too lightly. I don’t think that will happen.
FIGHT STATS: SHEVCHENKO vs. MURPHY
|Valentina Shevchenko||Category||Lauren Murphy|
|3.02||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.95|
|1.99||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||4.25|
|2.64||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.16|
|0.4||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0,1|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
With her status as the second-best woman on the UFC roster and the fact that she is such a heavy favorite, a loss for Shevchenko would be a disaster. She is unbeaten at 125 pounds in the UFC and has won her past seven outings. She is expected to retain her title and the feeling is that the only fighter who can beat her is Nunes.
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