The UFC women’s flyweight title is on the line on Saturday night at UFC 266 as all-conquering 125-pound women’s champion Valentina Shevchenko takes on the latest challenger to her crown.
‘Lucky’ Lauren Murphy has certainly earned her shot at UFC gold. The 38-year-old 19-fight veteran has gone 6-1 since dropping from bantamweight to flyweight, and heads into Saturday’s co-main event title fight riding an impressive five-fight win streak.
Murphy’s victories over Mara Romero Borella, Andrea Lee, Roxanne Modafferi, Liliya Shakirova and Joanne Calderwood saw her move through the ranks to a top contender spot.
And, with Murphy now sitting at No. 2 in the official UFC women’s flyweight rankings, the Houston native has finally earned a shot at championship gold.
But getting to a title fight is one thing. Winning one is another challenge altogether, especially when the champion happens to be Valentina Shevchenko.
Were it not for the dominance of Amanda Nunes in the women’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions, Shevchenko would be away and clear as the best female fighter on the planet.
The Kyrgyzstani fighter was a serious title threat at bantamweight, and pushed Nunes harder than any fighter before or since in her two encounters with the Brazilian earlier in her career.
But it’s at flyweight that Shevchenko has really shone. Fighting at her optimal weight against similarly-sized athletes, ‘Bullet’ has shown herself to be head and shoulders above the pack.
Shevchenko is undefeated at 125 pounds in the UFC, having defeated Priscila Cachoeira, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Eye, Liz Carmouche, Katlyn Chookagian, Jennifer Maia and Jessica Andrade to cement her dominance of a talent-packed division.
Now she faces the gritty Murphy, with the bout between the pair set for the co-main event slot in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Ahead of fight night, check out the UFC’s in-depth preview film, UFC 266 Countdown, as the UFC’s cameras catch up with both fighters ahead of their title tussle in Sin City.