UFC 215 Betting Preview: Nunes vs. Shevchenko
Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the co-main event of UFC 215 as the women’s bantamweight title is on the line. Amanda Nunes defends her championship against Valentina Shevchenko. This fight was originally scheduled for UFC 213, but Nunes was forced to pull out less than 24 hours before the fight due to sinus issues.
Amanda Nunes (Record: 14-4, +100 Underdog, Power Ranking: A+)
The 29-year-old Salvador, Bahia, Brazil-born bantamweight enters her second UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title Defense on a five-fight winning streak. Nunes last fought in December 2017 when she headlined UFC 207, stunning Ronda Rousey in less than one minute. Nunes is the only Brazilian currently holding a UFC championship in any weight class.
In the women’s bantamweight division, there are very few knockout threats. Amanda Nunes is one of those rare knockout threats. Of her 14 career wins, 10 of them have come by knockout. She’s big for the weight class with a 69 inch reach and uses her size well to wind up and land heavy strikes. She can absolutely knock out any opponent on the feet, but where she does her best work is on the ground from top control. Nunes averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon and succeeds in scoring takedowns at a 38% clip. From her solid wrestling game, she has excellent ground and pound. She does a very good job at advancing positions to allow herself an opportunity to wail down on her opponent from top control to have an opportunity at a stoppage win due to strikes. Nunes is also a high level jiu-jitsu black belt. Her skill set was on display in her title fight against Tate when she quickly latched on a submission to beat her opponent. Nunes is excellent in the first round of fights and is typically able to start off with a lead in her bouts. What has been the biggest hole in her game in the past has been conditioning. She slows down significantly in the second round and is running on empty in the third round. In every single third round she has been in during her professional career, she has been out struck decisively. Another thing to keep in mind is her time away from the cage. She missed out on UFC 213 due to a late scratch and one has to wonder if there will be some ring rust in this bout.
Valentina Shevchenko (Record: 14-2, -120 Favorite, Power Ranking: A+)
A highly regarded muay Thai striker, Shevchenko has now dedicated her time fully to MMA. She holds a 14-2 record inside the cage. She holds quality wins over some of the division’s top ranked fighters including out-striking Holly Holm and submitting Julianna Pena. Her only career losses are to former title contender Liz Carmouche and current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes.
A calculated striker, Shevchenko entered the UFC known for her striking prowess but has really worked hard to become an all-around mixed martial artist. Shevchenko has shown she can be successful in various ways. In her fight against Holly Holm, she forced the American to come forward and easily out-landed her as the fight progressed. Her combination striking was pivotal in this fight to out strike Holm 87 to 54 in significant strikes. What really stood out in this bout was her ability to turn it on in the championship rounds. Shevchenko did her best work in rounds four and five. They were her highest output rounds. In a much different type of performance, Shevchenko was forced into a grappling match with Julianna Pena. Shevchenko showed she’s much more than a stand-up striker by securing an armbar in the second round to stun Pena and make her the rightful top contender. Shevchenko is not the most powerful striker in the weight class, but her technique on the feet is capable of giving even top contenders problems. She combines that with an underrated wrestling game. Shevchenko has secured takedowns in all four of her UFC fights. However, the key to her success is her ability to maintain a high pace and get better as the fight ticks on. In championship fights, that comes even more into effect as she has 25 minutes to work.
An excellent matchup co-headlines UFC 215 with Amanda Nunes defending her title against Valentina Shevchenko in a bout between the division’s top two fighters. These two fighters first fought at UFC 196 in March of 2016. In that bout, Nunes secured takedowns in the first two rounds and had to hang on in the third round to win a decision on the scorecards. Both fighters have shown skill improvements since that fight making this an even more compelling contest. While the skill levels have increased, how this fight plays out remains the same. Look for Nunes to come out early and get the better of the striking in the early parts of this bout. Shevchenko has shown an ability to defend on the ground, so it will be hard for Nunes to finish. The key question is: when will Nunes begin to tire? She needs to put in 15 solid minutes of work to win enough rounds to win a decision. There’s no guarantee she’s able to do that and that is why she is the slightest of underdogs in this bout despite being the division’s most capable finisher. If Shevchenko can survive the early onslaught, she’ll have a good chance to win the fight. This fight sets up well for live betting as Shevchenko will be likely be available at dog odds during this fight and there will be opportunities to bet her as the fight progresses. If Shevchenko wins the first round, she will be an instant bet as it will be very hard for Nunes to overcome a round deficit in this bout. Either way, the over 2.5 stands a strong chance of landing. Given that these fighters went to a decision in their previous fight and Shevchenko has shown an ability to withstand the early onslaught, at only -130, the over is worth consideration as there’s a good chance this fight sees the championship rounds.