- Date & Location: Saturday Nov. 21 @ UFC Apex in Las Vegas
- Odds: Valentina Shevchenko (-1400) vs. Jennifer Maia (+750) via Bovada
- Prediction: Shevchenko by knockout
On Saturday, November 21, UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko tries to defend her title for the fourth time when she faces Jennifer Maia in the co-main event of UFC 255.
Shevchenko won the vacant title in late December 2018 when she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk via decision. Since that win, Shevchenko has successfully defended the title 125-pound title against Jessica Eye (knockout), Liz Carmouche (decision) and most recently Katlyn Chookagian (TKO). Shevchenko is the only woman to successfully defend the women’s flyweight title. Her only two losses in the UFC came against the current two-division champion Amanda Nunes. Both setbacks were via decision.
Maia is coming off a submission win over Joanne Calderwood. Maia, who is a former Invicta FC flyweight champ, joined the UFC in 2018. She is 3-2 entering the title fight and has missed weight twice during her UFC run. Maia is currently the No. 3 ranked fighter in the official UFC women’s flyweight rankings.
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SHEVCHENKO vs. MAIA ODDS
|Fighter||Odds (via Bovada)|
SHEVCHENKO vs. MAIA PREDICTION & PICK
It is hard to pick against Shevchenko these days. She is generally considered to be one of the most dominant champions in the UFC. There is a huge difference between her and every other fighter in the women’s 125-pound division. Her closing odds in her three title fights were -1696 (Eye), -1400 (Carmouche), and -1250 (Chookagian).
Since Shevchenko captured the title, her opponents have been left hoping to make it to the final bell. Not one fighter has taken a round from her since she won the belt.
There is one enormous concern for Shevchenko in this fight and that is her surgically repaired leg. Shevchenko had surgery to repair torn MCL earlier this year. A slow recovery forced her out of a planned fight opposite Calderwood. Shevchenko said that she would not fight unless her leg was 100 percent. With that, it seems as if Shevchenko thinks she is ready to fight, but it’s hard to tell how her body will react in a real fight situation.
Even with that question, I think the champion will defend her belt.
BETTING VALUE WITH SHEVCHENKO
It’s always a risk picking a 125-pound fighter for a knockout win because of size. However, Shevchenko, with her background in kickboxing and muay Thai, is always a threat to score a knockout. I feel fairly certain that the weight cut will be hard for Maia and that she will enter the contest at less than 100 percent. A rough weight cut will help Shevchenko as it will work against Maia’s cardio and confidence.
There is a chance Maia will be able to take the fight the distance, so if there is any doubt about a stoppage, it might be safe to take Shevchenko for a decision win.
The one thing that might stop one from taking Shevchenko is the odds. She opened as a -750 favorite and has climbed to -1400. As for Maia, it might be worth a look at her for the upset because of the odds. She opened as a +550 underdog and she has dropped to +750. I would not be too aggressive in betting Maia though, because it is a tremendous risk.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Both fighters are good on their feet and on the ground, but Shevchenko is better everywhere.Shevchenko also has a power advantage in her striking. Maia’s best bet will be to get the fight to the mat, but I don’t think she will have much success there as Shevchenko has stopped 77 percent of the takedown attempts from her opponents. No fighter has scored a takedown on Shevchenko in the 125-pound division.
Shevchenko is not as active as Maia with her striking, but her accuracy is 11 percent higher than Maia’s and her defense is 10 percent better than Maia’s. Maia also absorbs more strikes than the champion.
If we look at common opponents, Maia lost to Liz Carmouche and Katlyn Chookagian. Shevchenko defeated both of those women with ease, besting Carmouche by decision and stopping Chookagian by TKO.
FIGHT STATS: SHEVCHENKO vs. MAIA
|Valentina Shevchenko||Category||Jennifer Maia|
|3.06||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||4.08|
|2.12||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.92|
|2.09||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||0.23|
|0.4||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.2|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
An upset loss for Shevchenko would be a terrible way for her to end her run as champion, especially with the odds so much in her favor. Many pundits feel she is a lock to defeat any woman in the 125-pound division and feel her only worthy adversary is Nunes. A loss here would ruin any chance of Shevchenko getting the opportunity to become a two-division UFC champion.
With a win, Maia would go down as one of the biggest upset victors in UFC history.