By Matt White
The UFC returns to pay-per-view territory after a relatively lacklustre event in Rotterdam, an event that was always destined to play second fiddle to The Money Fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregot that took place in Las Vegas seven days before.
Two titles were on the line at UFC 215 (now one, thanks to flyweight Ray Borg’s fight week illness), yet my favourite bout – Junior dos Santos versus Francis Ngannou – was scrapped when Junior dos Santos was pulled from the card with two weeks to go.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best of the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko
UFC women’s bantamweight championship
Amanda Nunes was viewed by some as a ‘paper champ’, or an interim placeholder, until the return to MMA of Ronda Rousey. At UFC 207, though, that myth was debunked in spectacular style as Nunes picked the former champion apart inside a minute. It was as beautiful as it was ugly and cemented the Brazilian’s position as number one.
Valentina Shevchenko has experienced just the one defeat in her UFC career and that came against Nunes in a fight in which she didn’t really assert herself until the final round. By this time the damage was done, of course, and Nunes took the victory – and with it a guaranteed title shot. Shevchenko is no slouch, however, and those who are writing her off as just another victim for Nunes should go back and review the striking power this woman has.
Ultimately, it’s a tough one to call, a fight that can go one of two ways. Either Nunes finds the finish in the opening two rounds or Shevchenko takes the fight in the last three rounds when Nunes inevitably gasses out. I’ll go out on a limb and take Shevchenko by late TKO, setting up a trilogy fight for later this year in Russia or New York.
Recommendation: Valentina Shevchenko – 3 units at -130 (10/13) @ 5Dimes