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.

With a win at UFC 263, did Lauren Murphy earn a shot at the flyweight title?

Lauren Murphy, UFC

This past Saturday on the prelims of UFC 263, we saw a pivotal matchup in the women’s flyweight division. Top six contenders went head-to-head in a potential title eliminator as Lauren Murphy (15-4) took on Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood (15-6).

The fight was extremely close on Saturday night. In the first round, both ladies were able to do some solid work on the feet. It was an extremely tough round to score and I could have seen an argument for either fighter getting the nod in the first round.

The second round was all Lauren Murphy. Murphy was able to secure a takedown early and she controlled the entire round from the top position. In the third round, Murphy was not able to get Calderwood back to the ground.

Both of the fighters slugged it out in the third round at UFC 263, but Calderwood clearly got the better of the striking exchanges. With that, the two went to the scorecards. It was clear who won the second and third round, but the first was very much up in the air.

I could have easily seen three outcomes based on those three rounds. All three of these were arguable at UFC 263: Murphy by decision, draw, Calderwood by decision. It all would come down to how the second round was scored and who won the first round.

In the end, two of the three judges gave the fight to “Lucky” Lauren Murphy. A massive win for her as she made it five in a row in the UFC.

What’s next after UFC 263?

As mentioned, Lauren Murphy has put together five consecutive wins in the flyweight division. The only one above her in terms of consecutive wins is the current flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3).

Murphy was vocal after her last win at UFC 254 in October that she wanted a shot at the title. Of course, Jessica Andrade ended up getting the shot and was thoroughly dominated by the champion at UFC 261.

Having won her fifth in a row, is Lauren Murphy next? Well, I have to say that I would personally give her the shot. She’s won five in a row and she’s the only one in the top four who hasn’t had a crack at Shevchenko yet.

Dana White didn’t commit to giving her the next UFC title shot, but he acknowledge that it’s a real possibility. Really, there’s only one other top contender who has an argument and that’s Katlyn Chookagian (16-4).

Chookagian holds a victory over Lauren Murphy and she’s currently ranked second in the division ahead of Murphy. However, Chookagian did get a shot against Shevchenko last year and was dominated by the champion.

I don’t want to see Murphy fight Chookagian again and I personally don’t want to see Chookagian fight Shevchenko again right now. I think it’s time that Lauren Murphy gets her UFC title shot. It’s a new fight for the division and Murphy has earned it with five consecutive wins in the flyweight division.

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.

Valentina Shevchenko destroys Jessica Andrade at UFC 261

The first of three title fights at UFC 261 featured the women’s flyweight title. The undisputed champion Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) was taking on the former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (21-8). This title fight was flying under the radar but was massively anticipated on my end.

Jessica Andrade is finally competing in her natural weight class. When she broke into the UFC, she fought at 135 pounds because that was the only option. She was massively undersized and when the strawweight division opened, she dropped 20 pounds.

Andrade rose to the top and became the UFC‘s strawweight champion. However, the weight cut was always extremely difficult and after back-to-back losses at 115 pounds, Andrade decided to move up. In her first fight at flyweight, she stopped the number one contender in the first round.

While defeating the top contender is impressive, the UFC‘s flyweight champion is a different animal. The only person who has gotten the better of Shevchenko since she joined the UFC was Amanda Nunes. Nunes did it twice although, I thought Valentina won the second time.

Both of those fights were at 135 pounds. When the UFC opened the flyweight division, it was immediately known that it was going to be her weight class. Shevchenko was looking for her fifth successful title defense tonight at UFC 261.

UFC 261 Recap

Round 1

The UFC flyweight title fight kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Andrade looked to open the striking with low kicks, but was out of range. Shevchenko opens her striking with some strong kicks. The UFC champion lands a clean counter as Andrade looks to press forward.

A hard 1-2 lands for Shevchenko. Body kick lands for Jessica Andrade. Shevchenko gets a body lock off an Andrade kick and takes Andrade down immediately. Andrade pops back up to her feet, but the flyweight champion drags her right back down. Again, Andrade gets back up.

Shevchenko lets her go and throws a headkick on the break. A vicious combination lands for Valentina Shevchenko and the two go to a clinch. Andrade presses Shevchenko against the fence and starts working body shots. However, Shevchenko just uses her strength to throw Andrade down to the ground.

The UFC champion tries to lock in a rear-naked choke, but Andrade defends well. Dominance thus far for Valentina Shevchenko. Andrade uses the fence to work her way back up. Shevchenko is heavy on the clinch pressure and takes Andrade down before the round ends. Dominant round one for the UFC champion.

Round 2

The second round opens with some pressure from Andrade, but she’s popped with a couple of big shots from Shevchenko. The two clinch and the UFC champion slams Andrade to the ground. There is a massive strength difference between these two ladies and it’s very evident here in the first.

Shevchenko starts working her ground and pound on Andrade. Andrade tries to explode up and she works her way back to her feet. She pushes Shevchenko to the fence and tries to pick her up. However, the UFC champion wasn’t going anywhere.

Shevchenko gets Andrade back to the ground and ends up in the crucifix position. Massive elbows rain down from Valentina Shevchenko and Andrade is bloodied. The referee steps in and this one is over. Total domination from the champion.

Valentina Shevchenko def. Jessica Andrade by TKO – Round 2

UFC 261 Preview: Valentina Shevchenko – Jessica Andrade

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

After another dominant title defense at UFC 259, what’s next for Amanda Nunes?

This past Saturday at UFC 259, Amanda Nunes (21-4) defended her featherweight championship against Megan Anderson (11-5). Anderson’s physical attributes figured to give Nunes a new challenge that she wasn’t used to.

Anderson is very tall and she has good range striking as well as submissions. However, were those attributes going to be enough was the big question. The answer was emphatically no at UFC 259.

From the opening bell, Anderson looked extremely tentative. Her eyes were very wide and she had the look of someone who didn’t want to be there. Shortly into the first round, Nunes landed her first big bomb.

Anderson took the shot well, but she looked horrified. Nunes pushed forward and landed more shots that had Anderson hurt badly. Anderson shot for a desperation takedown, but Nunes ended up on top.

Once the UFC‘s two-division champion was on top, it didn’t last long. From the top, Nunes was able to lock up an inverted triangle choke. She transitioned that to a triangle armbar and Anderson was forced to tap. A beautiful performance by Nunes.

What’s next after UFC 259?

After this performance, it appears that the featherweight division will be put on ice for a bit. The UFC has no plans to close the division with Nunes’ desire to remain a two-division champion, but there simply aren’t any challengers there at the moment.

With that, Nunes will return to bantamweight for her next fight. As of now, it appears that the UFC is leaning towards having former Ultimate Fighter winner, Julianna Pena (10-4) challenge Nunes. This is a decision that I don’t personally agree with.

While Pena has been vocal about her desire to fight Nunes, she’s ranked sixth in the division. She was put to sleep by Germaine De Randamie (10-4) just a few months ago. Having Pena jump the line just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me even if there’s beef there.

Trilogies or Beef?

In my opinion the two women I’m interested in Nunes fighting next at 135 is De Randamie and Valentina Shevchenko (20-3). Shevchenko and De Randamie both have something in common. They are unbeaten inside the UFC outside of their fights with Nunes.

Shevchenko is 0-2, but many (including myself) through that she actually won the second matchup with Nunes. The UFC’s flyweight champion is defending her title in April, and if she wins, we could see the trilogy.

However, out of the contenders at 135, nobody is more deserving than De Randamie. Yes, she’s lost to Nunes twice, but she’s beat everyone else at 135. She showed great improvement on the ground against Pena and she showed that she can strike with Nunes.

Ultimately, I believe the UFC will go down the path of Julianna Pena. Again, this is something I don’t agree with, but at the end of the day, the promotion does a lot of things that the media doesn’t agree with.

BREAKING: UFC books Valentina Shevchenko – Jessica Andrade

The UFC has finalized the next title fight in the women’s flyweight division. The flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) will be defending her title against the former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade (21-8).

The matchup will take place at UFC 261 on April 24th. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report the news. Shevchenko will be looking to defend her flyweight title for the fifth time on April 24th.

There is no doubting that Shevchenko is one of the best fighters in all of the UFC. Since making her debut with the promotion, the only fighter to get the better of Shevchenko was Amanda Nunes, who of course is considered to be the best of all time.

Worth noting that both of the losses against Nunes took place at 135 pounds. Shevchenko is much more natural and at her best at 125 pounds. Since the UFC created the flyweight division, Shevchenko has been in complete control.

Her dominance has gotten to the point where fans are amazed when she loses a round. Not a fight, but merely a round. Take her last fight at UFC 255 as the perfect example. In that fight, Shevchenko took on the tough, Jennifer Maia.

Maia was able to use her strength and grappling to clearly win the second round. That round made everyone stand back, but Shevchenko would go on to win four of the five rounds. She is truly something special and she has an exciting fight on her hands in a couple of months.

Third UFC weight class for Andrade

The UFC career of Jessica Andrade has been an interesting one. When she made her debut with the promotion back in 2013, there was only the bantamweight division. With that, Andrade was forced to fight at 135 pounds if she wanted to fight for the UFC.

Because she’s so talented, she was able to hold her own despite being much smaller. Then, the promotion created the strawweight division at 115 pounds. Andrade carries a lot of muscle, but she was able to cut down to that weight where she would be on a more even playing field.

The highlight of her strawweight career came at UFC 237 when she became the strawweight champion. However, she would go on to lose the title in her first defense. After losing a rematch to Rose Namajunas back on Fight Island, Andrade decided to try out her third weight class.

125 pounds is much more natural for Andrade. She doesn’t have to deplete herself due to an extreme weight cut and she maintains her speed that she had at strawweight. That makes her very dangerous to other flyweights.

She made her flyweight debut against top contender, Katlyn Chookagian. With a combination of body shots, Andrade was able to get the first round stoppage to earn a shot at the UFC’s flyweight queen. This is going to be one helluva fight and I’m excited to watch.

In the UFC’s women’s divisions, who will be a champion after 2021?

This week I’ve gone through all of the men’s divisions in the UFC. From flyweight to heavyweight predicting who will walk out of 2021 with a title around their waste. Well, what about the women’s divisions?

The UFC‘s four women’s are currently controlled by three of the very best fighters in the world. Amanda Nunes (20-4), Valentina Shevchenko (20-3), and Weili Zhang (21-1) stand on top of the four divisions.

Nunes reigns over the UFC‘s featherweight and bantamweight divisions. Shevchenko is the queen of the bantamweights while Weili Zhang is the champion at strawweight which is the best division in women’s MMA.

This year there plans to be a number of exciting female matchups in the UFC. As mentioned, the strawweight division is completely stacked and there is the potential of some super fights between champions in 2021.

The UFC is planning for a massive year in 2021 and the women figure to be a big part of that. The question then becomes, will any of the current champions lose their crowns in 2021?

UFC champions after 2021

Strawweight – Weili Zhang

In my opinion, the UFC champion that has the highest chance of losing in 2021 is Weili Zhang when it comes to the women. That’s not a knock on her at all, but it’s more of a testament to how good the strawweight division is.

That said, I believe that she will still be the UFC strawweight champion after 2021 is over. Weili only fought once in 2020 and it was the fight of the year. She defended her title against arguably the greatest strawweight of all time, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4).

At UFC 248, Weili showed me something we hadn’t seen from her yet. She showed that she can really dig down deep in a tough fight. Joanna pushed her to the limit, but Weili was game for five rounds and won a split decision.

Her first test of 2021 will likely come against Rose Namajunas (9-4). Thug Rose is the number one contender, but there have been hurdles in making the fight. Should it get made, I’m expecting another fantastic matchup.

However, in the end, I think that Weili Zhang is just the better fighter overall. If she loses in 2021, I really don’t believe it’ll be at strawweight. Her only loss would be if she moves up to take on the UFC’s flyweight champion.

Flyweight – Valentina Shevchenko

You can make the argument that the best female fighter in the UFC is Valentina Shevchenko. Of course as long as Amanda Nunes is the champ-champ, she will hold onto the number one spot in the pound-for-pound rankings.

However, you can make the argument that Shevchenko actually defeated Nunes the last time they fought at UFC 215. Nunes won by split decision in a fight that I actually scored for Shevchenko.

The reality is, there is no one at 125 pounds that I see posing a threat to Shevchenko. Her first title defense of 2021 will come against Jessica Andrade (21-8). The former strawweight champion made her flyweight debut with a bang in October.

She was able to stop Katlyn Chookagian in the first round with body shots. Andrade definitely has the power to make it interesting, however, I just don’t see her being able to hang with the overall skillset of Shevchenko.

Bantamweight & Featherweight – Amanda Nunes

This is another easy one. Outside of Valentina Shevchenko, who can really challenge Amanda Nunes in 2021? She’s defending her featherweight title against Megan Anderson (11-4) at UFC 259.

Anderson should give Nunes some interesting challenges given her height and range. However, does anyone really believe that Megan Anderson will be the one to dethrone Amanda Nunes?

Nunes is on another level from most of her competition. She is the greatest female fighter to ever live. Nunes holds two victories over Shevchenko, she’s knocked out Cris Cyborg, she’s knocked out Ronda Rousey, she’s knocked out Holly Holm, and I could go on.

It is truly something special to watch her compete inside the octagon. 2021 is going to be interesting in that I could see the UFC pairing Nunes and Shevchenko up a third time. The only way Nunes or Shevchenko lose in 2021 is if they fight each other.

Honestly, I don’t know how that fight would go. Of course you’d have to favor Nunes. However, Shevchenko has all the skill to be able to hang with her. It’s a superfight that I desperately want to see in 2021.