The first of three title fights tomorrow night at UFC 261 will see the women’s flyweight title up for grabs. Former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (21-8) is getting her shot at the UFC‘s flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko (20-3).
After years of competing in the UFC, Jessica Andrade is finally in her proper weight class. When Andrade first joined the promotion, she was forced to fight at 135 pounds. Obviously, Andrade was drastically too small for that division.
When the UFC opened up the strawweight division, Andrade dropped 20 pounds to fight at 115 pounds. Andrade reached the top of the mountain when she knocked out Rose Namajunas to become the strawweight champion. However, her reign was short-lived after she was knocked out by Zhang Weili.
After losing a rematch to Rose Namajunas, Andrade decided to move up. In her first flyweight fight, she fought the number one contender, Katelyn Chookagian. Andrade stopped Chookagian in the first round which immediately made her the next in line to challenge for the UFC flyweight title.
Standing the way of Andrade winning her second UFC title is the flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko. You could make the argument that pound-for-pound and skill-for-skill that Shevchenko is the best in the world. Of course, Amanda Nunes is atop all P4P rankings, but she has an interesting history with the UFC flyweight champion.
Nunes has fought and defeated Shevchenko twice. However, I still believe that Valentina won the last fight between the two for the UFC bantamweight title. After the decision didn’t go her way, Shevchenko moved to her natural weight class at 125 pounds. Since then, she hasn’t been challenged and she’s looking to continue her dominance tomorrow night.
UFC 261 Prediction
Heading into this title fight at UFC 261, the narrative is all surrounding the power of Jessica Andrade. The pundits are saying that due to Andrade’s power and strength, she’s going to pose problems for Valentina Shevchenko.
Personally, I really don’t see the champion having issues tomorrow night. On the feet, Shevchenko is going to have the massive advantage. If this fight stays at striking range, the UFC flyweight champion can just pick apart Andrade from the outside. Her kicks are going to be huge tomorrow night.
Andrade needs to try and get this fight to the ground. Nunes was able to do that and we even saw Jennifer Maia have some success in one round against Valentina. However, I don’t think Andrade has it in her to control the UFC champion for at least three rounds tomorrow night.
Ultimately, I’m expecting another great performance for Shevchenko. I wouldn’t even be shocked to see her get a finish in the middle rounds. However, I’ll settle for picking her on points tomorrow night.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko by Unanimous Decision