UFC booking Valentina Shevchenko – Taila Santos

The pound for pound best female fighter in the world has her next fight scheduled. UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) will be returning in June when she takes on Taila Santos (19-1). MMA Fighting was the first outlet to report the booking.

The fight is expected to take place at UFC 275 on June 11th. This is a massive opportunity for Santos who will come into this title shot riding a four-fight win streak. The first time UFC fans were introduced to Santos was on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Santos won her fight which earned herself a contract. Now, she would go on to lose her UFC debut by split decision. However, she hasn’t lost since. Starting with Molly McCann, Santos went on a run that put her in this position.

Her last two performances have really showed fans a lot. She was able to take out Roxanne Modafferi and the tough Joanne Wood. Given the fact that Shevchenko has ran through the flyweight division and Santos is a fresh opponent with a winning streak, the UFC decided to give her a shot.

Another UFC ruby for the queen?

You could easily make the argument that skill-for-skill, Valentina is the best fighter in the UFC period. Whether male or female, Valentina Shevchenko is really that good. The flyweight champion is not only the best, but she’s been head and shoulders better than her competition.

When the UFC created the flyweight division,¬† it was made with Shevchenko is mind. Many thought she would immediately rise to the top and capture UFC gold. That’s exactly what she did and she’s held onto the flyweight title for over three years now and defended the title six times.

In her last fight, she took on Lauren Murphy at UFC 266. She completely ran through Murphy and stopped her in the fourth round. It was Shevchenko’s fourth finish in her last six wins. It’s crazy to say, but every time we see Shevchenko, she’s even better and I’m sure she’s going to be the best version of herself when she takes on the tough Taila Santos in June.

UFC Predictions: Women champions after 2022

2021 was an incredible year for the women’s divisions in the UFC. We saw some tremendously dominating performances and some historic upsets. In thinking about the year, the first fight that comes to mind is the bantamweight title fight that took place at UFC 269.

The fight took place just weeks ago between Julianna Pena (11-4) and Amanda Nunes (21-5). Nunes was a monster favorite given her status at the two-division UFC champion. Nobody was really giving Julianna Pena a chance outside of Julianna Pena herself.

Well, Pena did exactly what she said she was going to do and shocked the world to become UFC bantamweight champion. 2021 also saw the return of “Thug” Rose Namajunas (11-4) to the top of the mountain. It happened back at UFC 261 when she knocked out Zhang Weili to regain the strawweight title.

She affirmed her status at the top of the mountain by defeating Weili in an immediate rematch in November. Then of course, 2021 featured the pure brilliance and dominance of the queen, Valentina Shevchenko (22-3). Shevchenko defended her title twice and won both fights by dominant stoppage.

2022 is shaping up to be another big year for the women’s divisions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the four divisions and make predictions for who will be UFC champion at the end of the year.

UFC 2022 Predictions

Strawweight

The first division we are looking at is the strawweight division. Currently, Rose Namajunas is on top of the division. She has her first opponent lined up for the year, we just don’t know which date they will be fighting. Up first for Namajunas is Carla Esparza (18-6).

These two met in the first ever strawweight title fight with Esparza getting the win. However, both of these fighters are much different now and I truly believe that Namajunas is on another level. I think she’s going to easily retain her UFC title in the rematch.

Then, Namajunas will have her toughest test in my opinion. I believe her second title fight is going to come against Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2). Rodriguez is setup for a title eliminator in the first part of the year and I believe she’s going to get the job done.

After that, I’m expecting her to get a title fight. Given her style, she can really give Namajunas problems. However, I still really like “Thug” Rose’s overall game and I think Trevor Wittman will figure out a game plan to keep her UFC title.

Champion: Rose Namajunas 

Flyweight and Bantamweight

Next up, I believe we are going to see another two-division UFC champion rise up in 2022. That champion will be Valentina Shevchenko. Let me get this out of the way quickly, nobody is touching her at 125 pounds. Nobody will come close to dethroning her at flyweight and there’s really nothing to discuss.

My bold prediction is her capturing the bantamweight title. Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes are expected to run things back sometime in late spring. I believe that Nunes is going to regain her bantamweight title. However, I’m not sure she’s going to fight at 135 pounds again after beating Pena.

If she stays at 135, I think the UFC will finally do the trilogy with Shevchenko. If they do, I expect Shevchenko to get the win. Now, let’s say that Nunes vacates the bantamweight title after winning it back. If she does, I think the UFC does the rematch with Pena and Shevchenko at 135 pounds.

Just like the first time, I expect Shevchenko to get the win. Obviously if Pena wins, I still see the Shevchenko fight happening. This will be the year that Valentina moves up and captures a second world title.

Champion: Valentina Shevchenko

Featherweight – Amanda Nunes

The last division to discuss is the featherweight division. Let’s be honest, there’s no competition for Amanda Nunes currently at 145 pounds so by default, she’s going to be my pick for the featherweight division. Now, the potential add of Kayla Harrison (12-0) could make things very interesting.

The two-time PFL champion and Olympic Gold Medalist is being courted by all the major promotions. She’s Nunes’ teammate but has already said that she would fight Nunes for the UFC title to further her legacy. While not confirmed, the UFC’s original plan was to have Harrison face Nunes had Nunes won at UFC 269.

Of course, all that went out the window after Nunes lost. That said, if Harrison signs with the UFC, she will be getting a title shot in 2022. Her skillset and strength could give Nunes a ton of problems especially if Nunes isn’t in peak cardio shape.

However, with so many questions surrounding the free agency of Harrison, I’m still going to go with Nunes as the featherweight champion.

Champion: Amanda Nunes

UFC: Could Miesha Tate become a factor in the flyweight division?

We are nearly a couple of weeks removed from UFC 269 where we witnessed one of the greatest upsets in MMA history. Julianna Pena (11-4) shocked the world when she defeated Amanda Nunes (21-5) to become the UFC bantamweight champion.

One person who was not surprised by the outcome was fellow UFC bantamweight and former champion Miesha Tate (19-8). Tate is a close friend of Pena’s and coached her on The Ultimate Fighter. For week’s Tate was telling anyone who would listen that Pena had a real shot to do the unthinkable.

That said, many chalked it up to bias. Now, Tate can sit around telling everyone that she told us so. Tate is in the middle of her comeback which she started this past year. The former UFC champion took some time away from the sport and resumed competing in 2021.

She’s gone 1-1 this year and she’s coming off of a loss to Ketlen Vieira. Tate believes that she’s only a win or two away from being a factor in the title picture at 135 pounds. However, Pena being the champion does make things a bit cloudy and she told that to MMA Junkie last week.

Will she challenge the UFC’s flyweight queen?

Tate told MMA Junkie that she would have to figure out what to do if she got to a title shot if Pena was still the champion. One thing she mentioned is the fact that both herself and Pena could drop an extra ten pounds to make 125. Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) reigns supreme over the UFC’s flyweight division.

Shevchenko has completely cleared out the flyweight division. It’s hard to even think of compelling matchups at this point because every top contender that’s in the division has already lost to Shevchenko in dominating fashion. That’s why there was talk of Shevchenko potentially moving up to 135 for a champion-champion fight with Nunes.

To me, the champion-champion is still there regardless of who wins between Pena and Nunes in their rematch. Shevchenko also has history with Pena as she submitted Pena a few years back. However, Tate’s potential move to the UFC’s flyweight division could make things interesting.

I was shocked when I heard Tate say that she could make 125. When she initially made her comeback, there was preliminary talk of her staying at 145 pounds but that was quickly scrapped. Now, the thought is there to drop all the way to flyweight.

I’ll tell you this, if she does make the drop, she’s right there for the title. Shevchenko needs new challengers and Tate could provide that. Tate’s size and grappling skills could also poise a unique challenge to the queen. This is definitely going to be a storyline to watch for this year.

What’s next for Valentina Shevchenko after UFC 266?

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 266, Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) defended her flyweight title against Lauren Murphy (15-5). Murphy was not intimidated and really believed she could give the champion troubles on Saturday night.

However, Shevchenko maintained that this defense would be like all of the rest. She said that she would win no matter what at UFC 266 and walk out of the arena with the flyweight title.

Well, she was right again. UFC 266 was another one-sided fight from Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko never allowed Murphy to get off any offense throughout the evening. I think you could count on both hands how many strikes Murphy landed in the fight.

Shevchenko’s speed and strength was just too much for the challenger. In the fourth round, Shevchenko really started to pour it on and hurt Murphy badly. The champion unleashed vicious combinations that ultimately wilted the challenger. Shevchenko got her hand raised and retained her title by fourth round TKO.

What’s next after UFC 266?

There is nobody in the UFC’s flyweight division that can compete with Valentina Shevchenko. It’s very clear that nobody even has a prayer against her out of the options for her.

Amanda Nunes (21-4), rightfully so, is considered to be the greatest of all time. However, she’s been pushed in fights. We’ve seen Germaine De Randamie have success against Nunes.

But the biggest challenge Nunes has ever faced is Shevchenko. These two have fought twice before the UFC started the flyweight division. Shevchenko is smaller, but that didn’t really matter in their fight.

The first fight, it was clear that Nunes won. However, the second fight generated a lot of controversy. Nunes edged Shevchenko by split decision at UFC 215, but the world has been split on that fight. 20 media members scored the fight and they were perfectly split 10-10.

Personally, I scored the fight for Shevchenko. While it’s not popular to say, I think Shevchenko is the best overall female fighter in the UFC and I believe it’s time to set up the third fight between these two.

Now, Nunes has to win her fight in December against Julianna Pena. However, let’s be real, she’s not losing to Julianna Pena. After she wins, it’s time to book the trilogy. This is the fight every one wants and it’s the fight that should happen to truly determine who’s the best in the world.

Valentina Shevchenko demolishes Lauren Murphy at UFC 266

In the co-main event of UFC 266, we saw a battle for the women’s flyweight title. The undisputed queen Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) was defending her crown against a very hungry challenger in “Lucky” Lauren Murphy (15-4).

There is a very good argument for Valentina Shevchenko being the best pound for pound fighter in terms of skillset on the UFC roster. This includes both women and men. She is tremendous wherever the fight goes and she’s become so dominant that it’s impressive when she loses a round.

Overall, Shevchenko is a perfect 7-0 at 125 pounds in the UFC. Every time we see her fight, she seems to improve which should be terrifying for fellow flyweights. However, a flyweight that was not intimidated was the challenger, Lauren Murphy.

Lauren Murphy has quite the inspiring story. She didn’t grow up a martial artist, but just decided that she wanted to compete and she dedicated her life to it. After starting her UFC career 2-4, Murphy has won five straight fights to earn this shot against Valentina Shevchenko.

UFC 266 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 266 co-main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Murphy takes the center to start things and Shevchenko starts measuring her up. Low kick lands for Shevchenko and she also lands a nice right overhand.

Body kick lands for Shevchenko. Shevchenko holding the center here and Murphy is circling on the outside. Murphy tries to step in but Shevchenko evades the strikes. A lot of heat being thrown by the UFC champion early on.

Powerful body kick and a few powerful punches behind it lands for Valentina. Murphy tries to answer but nothing lands. Huge step in left straight for Shevchenko. Another left for Shevchenko and a body kick behind it.

Beautiful combination lands for the champion. Murphy lands her first strike of the fight and it’s a body kick. However, Shevchenko lands a big combination behind it. Another big combination from the champion. Powerful left hand lands for Shevchenko.

Right hook now from Shevchenko and Murphy is starting to swell up. Spinning backfist from the champion and then she comes up with a headkick. Dominant opening round by the UFC champ who ends the round with a big takedown.

Round 2

Entering the second here at UFC 266 and I don’t know how in the world Lauren Murphy is supposed to win this fight. The second starts with Murphy coming forward but she’s looking very gun shy here.

A clinch exchange here and Murphy actually gets the better position. She pushes the champion against the fence and she’s trying to get a takedown here. Murphy working hard here for a takedown, but Shevchenko is defending well and separates.

Good combination lands for Shevchenko. Murphy tries to push forward but eats a big right from the champ. Good jab lands for Shevchenko and then she lands back-to-back body kicks.

Murphy tries to get a takedown but Shevchenko gets the body lock and throws Murphy to the ground. Shevchenko settles into the halfguard with two minutes left in the round.

The champion starts trying to pass and you have to think she’s going to try and get to her crucifix position. However, Murphy defends well. The round comes to a close and it’s another dominant one for the UFC champion.

Round 3

Entering the third at UFC 266 and Murphy really needs to get something going. Shevchenko opens in the center and she starts the striking with a nice kick. Murphy tries to come forward but eats a crisp counter hook from the champion.

Every time that Murphy advances she’s getting clipped by Shevchenko. Spinning back kick just misses from the champion. Big 1-2 lands for Shevchenko. Huge counter right hand lands for Shevchenko on a Murphy entry.

Two big kicks land for Shevchenko. Another brutal combination lands from the champion. Front kick to the body lands for Murphy and Shevchenko responds with multiple big shots.

Big leg kick and a nice 1-2 behind it from the champion. Shevchenko keeps throwing head kicks that are just missing the mark. Big jab from the champion. Murphy tries a superman punch and doesn’t come remotely close.

Shevchenko responds with a big combination. Brutal body kick lands for Shevchenko. Powerful leg kick lands for the champion. Another dominant round in the books for the UFC flyweight queen.

Round 4

Entering the fourth round and Shevchenko has bagged all three rounds at UFC 266. Pressure from the champion to start the fourth and she starts the striking with two good low kicks.

Murphy responds with a nice body kick. 1-2 and a big right hook lands for Shevchenko. Shevchenko pressing on the gas here a big more in the fourth and she lands a few really nice left hands.

Body kick from the champion finds it’s home. 1-2 followed by a big calf kick from Shevchenko. Nice body kick from Shevchenko and then she comes up top with a front kick that just misses.

The champion is locked in and she rocks Murphy badly. Shevchenko pouring it on here and Murphy is just trying to survive. Murphy is able to grab ahold of Shevchenko on the ground and it looks like she’s going to survive but she was hurt badly.

Big elbows from Shevchenko and now she’s pouring it on again. The referee stops the action and once again, pure dominance from the flyweight queen.

Valentina Shevchenko def. Lauren Murphy by TKO – Round 4

UFC 266 Preview: Valentina Shevchenko – Lauren Murphy

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 266, we will see a battle for the women’s flyweight title. The undisputed queen Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) is back to defend her crown against a very hungry challenger in “Lucky” Lauren Murphy (15-4).

There is a very good argument for Valentina Shevchenko being the best pound for pound fighter in terms of skillset on the UFC roster. This includes both women and men. She is tremendous wherever the fight goes and she’s become so dominant that it’s impressive when she loses a round.

Overall, Shevchenko is a perfect 7-0 at 125 pounds in the UFC. Every time we see her fight, she seems to improve which should be terrifying for fellow flyweights. However, a flyweight that is not intimidated is the challenger, Lauren Murphy.

Lauren Murphy has quite the inspiring story. She didn’t grow up a martial artist, but just decided that she wanted to compete and she dedicated her life to it. After starting her UFC career 2-4, Murphy has won five straight fights to earn this shot against Valentina Shevchenko.

UFC 266 Prediction

There is one thing I can guarantee in this fight and that’s that Lauren Murphy is not going to stop trying. Murphy is a gamer and she worked incredibly hard to get this shot at UFC 266. We’ve seen her show good grappling and striking during her run with the UFC.

Murphy does a lot of things well that would make her a threat to most. However, there is not a single thing that she does better than Valentina Shevchenko. Pick out any aspect of MMA and Valentina Shevchenko is better at it than Lauren Murphy.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful or Murphy, but it’s just reality. Valentina Shevchenko is truly something special and I believe she is going to put on another special performance at UFC 266. I think Murphy is tough enough to last throughout the fight, but she’s not good enough to win here. This will be a very one-sided fight.

Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko by Unanimous Decision

Volkanovski – Ortega and Shevchenko – Murphy booked for UFC 266

The UFC is planning a massive event for their September PPV. First we learned earlier today that the matchup between Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) and Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC) was finalized for UFC 266 on September 25th.

The rematch between the two legends will be a five-round, non-title, non-main event matchup. This is only the second time that the UFC has ever done this. Nate Diaz – Leon Edwards was the first matchup to get the non-main event five-round treatment.

Now, we have learned that the promotion is adding two title fights on top of it. Dana White confirmed with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this evening that the promotion had finalized a featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) and top contender Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC).

Both men are fresh off of their coaching stints on The Ultimate Fighter and they are ready to battle it out. Originally, the two men were supposed to fight back in March. However, the UFC featherweight champion came down with COVID and the fight got pushed back.

The delay ended up being a blessing in disguise as the two men coached on TUF which created more intrigue around the matchup. While this featherweight title fight is exciting, it’s not the only title fight that’s heading to UFC 266.

UFC flyweight title on the line

White also told ESPN this evening that the flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3), will be defending her title against Lauren Murphy (15-4). The matchup will be the co-main event of UFC 266.

Murphy has won five fights in a row on her way to earning this shot at Shevchenko. She’s also one of the few flyweights in the top ten that hasn’t had a chance to fight Shevchenko. On September 25th, she will get her chance.

Lauren Murphy is going to be a massive betting underdog and for good reason. You can easily make the argument that skill-for-skill, Valentina Shevchenko is the best female fighter on the planet. Honestly, it is something truly special to watch her compete inside the octagon.

The only losses she has in the UFC have come against Amanda Nunes at 135 pounds. Granted, I still maintain that I thought Shevchenko won the last time they fought. At flyweight, Shevchenko is a perfect 7-0. During that stretch, she has four finishes and in her three decisions, she’s lost a grand total of two rounds.

UFC: Tatiana Suarez medically cleared and targeting September return

One of the top women’s prospects in the UFC is getting ready to make her return. After more than two years away from the octagon, Tatiana Suarez (8-0) has been cleared to make her UFC return.

Before a string of injuries, Suarez was being looked at as a future champion. The 30 year old last competed at UFC 238 when she defeated Nina Nunes by Unanimous Decision.

Prior that that win, Suarez had stoppage victories over Alexa Grasso and former UFC champion Carla Esparza. She was one of the top strawweights in the world prior to a string of bad luck and injuries.

After her last fight, Suarez had been dealing with a recurring bulging disc in her neck. This is the main thing that kept her out for over a year and a half. She was then cleared to resume training back in February.

However, the top UFC prospect then suffered a concussion and broke her hand while wrestling with her boyfriend. These injuries further delayed the return of Suarez.

However, Suarez told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani today that she’s been cleared and she’s targeting a September return. Suarez also told Helwani that she will be switching weight classes upon her UFC return.

New UFC Flyweight

The top contender said that she would be moving up to flyweight when she makes her UFC return. Suarez said, “Maybe if I’m not cutting too much weight at all, I’ll be a little more stronger and explosive.”

This is a welcomed addition to the flyweight division assuming all goes well with her UFC return. Suarez is truly one of the better female fighters in the world when she is at her base and the flyweight division needs new contenders.

Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) has completely dominated the division with no challenges. Suarez could provide a strong challenge to the queen and that is something that Suarez is already thinking about.

“I do think I have a good skill set in terms of my wrestling that can give her (Shevchenko) trouble,” Suarez said.

What’s next for Jessica Andrade after UFC 261?

This past Saturday at UFC 261, Jessica Andrade (21-9) was trying to capture the flyweight title. To do that, she was tasked with taking on arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3).

Andrade is a powerhouse of a female fighter. She is known for her strength and her incredible power. The flyweight division is actually her third weight class since joining the UFC.

When she broke through with the promotion, she started with the bantamweight division because that was her only choice. When the strawweight division opened up, Andrade dropped 20 pounds to 115.

Andrade rose to the top and became the UFC strawweight champion. However, her strawweight run ended with back-to-back losses. After two straight defeats, Andrade moved to what is considered her natural weight class of 125 pounds.

In her first fight, she took on Katlyn Chookagian. Andrade’s power was on full display and she stopped the top flyweight contender in the first round. Afterwards, the UFC immediately started hyping up the fight between Andrade and Shevchenko.

Many people expected Jessica Andrade to give Valentina Shevchenko problems at UFC 261. Well, that wasn’t the case. The fight ended up being extremely one-sided and Shevchenko retained her title with a second round TKO.

What’s next after UFC 261?

Valentina Shevchenko sent a massive message to Jessica Andrade on Saturday night. Andrade is known for her power takedowns and fighting in close. Many thought if the fight took place in close quarters that she would have the advantage.

Well, the UFC flyweight champion made a point to keep the fight in close quarters to show that she has no weaknesses. She dominated Jessica Andrade playing Andrade’s game. So with that loss, where does Jessica Andrade go from here?

Well, there are a couple of options. Andrade could always return to strawweight if she ever wants to. She’s 1-1 with the new UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (10-4). Andrade knocked Namajunas out in the first fight and lost a close split decision in the second fight.

It would be relatively easy for the promotion to sell the trilogy. However, the odds are that she will want to stay at 125 pounds. Assuming that’s the case, I think the UFC should look at booking her against Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1).

Calvillo is another strawweight turned flyweight. Currently, she’s ranked fifth in the UFC and she’s also coming off of a loss. I think it would be an excellent matchup that would keep both ladies relevant at 125 pounds.

After dominant win at UFC 261, what’s next for Valentina Shevchenko?

This past Saturday at UFC 261 we got to see a flyweight title fight that the world was intrigued by. The undisputed flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) defended her title against former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (21-9).

Heading into the fight, the UFC and Dana White really hyped up the former strawweight champion to build interest. The thought was that the power and pure strength of Andrade could give Valentina Shevchenko problems she has yet to deal with.

However, let’s not forget that Shevchenko has fought 40 minutes with Amanda Nunes (21-4). Nevertheless, the UFC was building up Andrade was a truly formattable challenger for the title.

Well, on Saturday night, Valentina Shevchenko made a massive statement to everyone. Dana White said that Shevchenko fought like a demon at UFC 261 who was pissed off at everyone.

Shevchenko did what everyone said Andrade needed to do at UFC 261. She engaged Andrade in the clinch and in close quarters. However, Andrade couldn’t do anything and Shevchenko showed just how strong she is.

Shevchenko ragdolled the former UFC strawweight champion on Saturday night. There wasn’t one aspect of the fight that she didn’t dominate. In the second round, she secured the crucifix position off of a powerful takedown and got the TKO win.

What’s next after UFC 261?

At UFC 261, Valentina Shevchenko once again proved that there are levels to this game and nobody is even close to hers at 125 pounds. She’s so far ahead of the rest of these ladies it’s not even funny.

The thing that makes her so special is how well-rounded she is as a martial artist. She has elite striking, elite grappling and she’s stronger than most of the bantamweights on the roster.

The only person on the entire UFC roster that can compete with Shevchenko is Amanda Nunes. This is not an exaggeration or being a victim of the moment, but I truly believe that Shevchenko is the second greatest female mixed martial artist we’ve ever seen.

She is inches behind Nunes and if you have a hard time believing that, watch their second fight from UFC 215. Personally, I scored that fight for Shevchenko and if she would’ve won that split decision, she would be called the greatest.

In my perfect world, I would love to see the trilogy between these two ladies, but Dana White has dismissed that. In terms of the next contender at flyweight, there are a couple of upcoming UFC matchups to watch.

A few weeks from now, Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) takes on Viviane Araujo (10-2) at UFC 262. Then, in June, Lauren Murphy (14-4) takes on JoJo Calderwood (15-5). One of these four ladies will get the next crack at the champion. My only advice to whoever gets that shot is good luck because you’re going to need it.