Nunes vs Shevchenko Preview
By: Chris Clark
It all comes down to this, a rematch between Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes and Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko, only this time it is for the UFC Bantamweight Championship, on the biggest stage of them all, UFC International Fight Week in Las Vegas. That won’t phase these two women though, both have an appetite for the big occasions, having had their initial fight on the first McGregor vs Diaz card. You also may know Nunes fought this woman named Ronda Rousey, while Shevchenko headlined an event on big Fox against Holly Holm. Additionally, there is more tension between these two ladies in the build up to UFC 213, perhaps because there is more on the line this time. In an age of MMA where trash talking tends to get fans hyped for a fight, I would rather see these two do their talking in the octagon, especially following their rather cringe-worthy performances trash talk wise following Shevchenko’s win over Julianna Pena, and at the Summer Kickoff press conference in Dallas. Both women have looked incredibly impressive since their first fight, with Nunes finishing both Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey in the first round, and Shevchenko dominating Holly Holm over the full five round distance, before stunning Julianna Pena with a first round submission finish. Overall, we’re in for an incredible fight, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
The first fight could reflect a lot of what we’ll see the second time, it started very even, with both fighters being cautious and feeling each other out. Nunes let go more initially, setting the pace and pushing forward, while Shevchenko was more defensive. Nunes was able to take Shevchenko down at will, and controlled her for most of the first two rounds, scoring a lot of ground and pound particularly in the second round, where it appeared Nunes might get the finish after almost locking in a rear naked choke. In the final round you could see Nunes was getting tired, her punches and kicks didn’t have as much power to them, and the takedowns weren’t coming as easy. Shevchenko also landed an elbow, which was the start of Nunes’s downfall during the round, as it seemed to have stunned her. It wasn’t enough though for Shevchenko, with Nunes scoring a 10-8 second round on two judge’s scorecards, and setting her off on a remarkable title run, which Shevchenko will now attempt to put a halt to.
How does Amanda Nunes win? Despite having relatively poor takedown accuracy (38.89%) Nunes dominated Shevchenko on the ground, at least she did the first two rounds before getting tired and potentially hurt. Her best chance is to end this fight early on the ground, doubtful she can do it on the feet given Shevchenko’s extensive background in striking, but Nunes has been ending fights or at least causing extensive damage through her striking ever since their first fight. Regardless, I see Nunes going for the takedown early, and trying to finish the fight quickly, the longer it goes the more it favors Shevchenko. Nunes has finished eight of her last nine wins in the first round, so clearly the early stages are where she gets her best work done.
How does Valentina Shevchenko win?
Shevchenko appeared to hurt Nunes in the third round of their first fight, so given that and the fact Nunes has never gone five rounds, you’d think Shevchenko’s best chance would be to stretch out the fight for as long as possible. I see Shevchenko being patient, and taking her time much like the first fight. Nunes will probably attempt to hurry her, while Shevchenko will pick her shots carefully and drag Nunes into rounds four and five. Shevchenko may even be able to get a finish late, similar to how Cat Zingano finished Nunes after she dominated early but ran out of gas.
This is such an even fight, both women have improved so much since their first encounter, and are both coming off dominant wins since. The way the first fight was looking, had it been five rounds it would’ve likely ended with Shevchenko winning the last three rounds. I simply haven’t seen any evidence that Nunes can go five rounds, and although I think she can hurt Shevchenko early, I don’t think she can be the full five rounds against the challenger. Shevchenko wins via split decision