DieHardMMA Previews | UFC Vegas 261: Shevchenko vs. Andrade
By: Clint MacLean
UFC 261 is insane. The card is stacked from top to bottom with entertaining and potentially violent fights, but the main attraction is the 3 title fights headlining the whole dang thing. Massive title fights with huge stars in back to back to back 5 round fights. This night is going to be epic.
Valentina Shevchenko (-410)
33 years old
20 – 3
65% finish rate
Valentina “The Bullet” Shevchenko is returning to defend her division where she has ruled with an iron fist. Shevchenko has been perfect at 125 since having dropped to the class and has turned away all comers in dominant fashion. Shevchenko is one of the most well-rounded mixed martial artists we have ever seen. She is a very technical and high-level striker, but you cannot sleep on her grappling either because she will snap your arm off just as fast as knocking you out. Shevchenko is widely regarded as the 2nd best women’s MMA fighter, with the only greater being Amanda Nunes.
Jessica Andrade (+310)
29 years old
21 – 8
71% finish rate
Jessica Andrade dropped to fights at 115 and destroyed her way to the title against Rose Namajunas, where she dumped the former champion on her head and took the gold by force. Amanda was dethroned by current 115 champion Weilei Zhang in her first title defense and, after dropping a split decision to Rose Andrade, decided 115 was not for her any longer. She made her presence known immediately at 125 by knocking out the ever-durable Katlyn Chokagian with a horrific body blow. Andrade finds herself on the doorsteps of another title fight and has an opportunity to become a legend and join the ranks of those who have become a champion in multiple divisions.
Andrade is a little powerhouse and an absolute monster in the octagon, but my problem is that I don’t know that her power will translate at 125. I know that sounds strange, considering she just folded Chookagian, but Valentina is a different kind of fighter. Jessica Andrade struggled with Rose Namajunes, who is roughly the same size as Shevchenko, but much thinner. Shevchenko is a much larger woman and a world-class striker who has been taking big shots for years. I do not expect her to fold over the way that Chookagian did if Andrade hits her.
So if Andrade is going to struggle to win this fight on the feet, what about the ground? Andrade has a powerful body lock and rips her opponents to the floor, where she has a strong top game and a blackbelt in BJJ. We just saw Shevchenko struggle with the physicality and grappling of Jennifer Maia, so maybe there is a path there for Jessica to do the same. Again, I can’t see it. Shevchenko was only on her back for a single round and then was able to turn the tables and take that fight over against Maia. If Andrade can muscle Valentina to the floor, and I’m not sure she can, she might have an opportunity, but I believe she will have a hard time keeping the champion there.
In the end, there was a reason that Andrade dropped a weight class, and it served her well. I fully respect her skill set and just how dangerous she really is, but Shevchenko is 2nd only to Amanda Nunes, and she would have an argument to make about that statement. I have a very hard time seeing her lose this fight unless Andrade finds her liver with a power shot that she cannot recover from. I believe Valentina will out-class Andrade on the feet, and we will see a late finish or a decision victory. Andrade is very durable herself, and I think once she tires, there might be an opportunity for a finish, but I can see this one going all 5.
The Pick: Over 3.5 rounds -130