UFC: State of the women’s flyweight division entering 2021

Arguably the most dominant champion in any UFC division is Valentina Shevchenko (20-3). Shevchenko is the queen of the flyweight division and she has shown that she’s head and shoulders above the competition at 125 pounds.

She has been so dominant that people lose their minds when she loses a round as she did at UFC 255. Shevchenko just defended her title last month against a very game, Jennifer Maia (18-7-1).

Nobody in the world believed that Maia could hang with Shevchenko. However, Maia was able to win a round and make it competitive. Well, as competitive as a fight can be when one person loses four of the five rounds.

Simply put, Valentina Shevchenko is at a different level. The UFC flyweight champion has only lost twice inside the octagon. Both of those losses came to two-division champion, Amanda Nunes.

However, many believe that Shevchenko won the second matchup which Nunes took by split decision. Nevertheless, when the flyweight division was created, the UFC created it with Valentina Shevchenko in mind.

UFC Flyweight in 2021

As we head into the new year, we already know what is going to be first for Valentina Shevchenko. The first challenger will be former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade (21-8).

Andrade is now competing in her third weight class in the UFC. She started at bantamweight when it was the only division. However, she was much smaller than all of her competition.

When the strawweight division was created, she dropped twenty pounds to compete there. She captured UFC gold, but it still didn’t appear to be her natural weight class. Finally at 125, she seems to have found the perfect fit.

In her debut, she finished former title challenger, Katlyn Chookagian (15-4), in the first round. A matchup between Shevchenko and Andrade should be a lot of fun for fight fans. No word on when this matchup will take place.

Outside of the title fight, there is another compelling matchup in the division that should be made. That would be the rematch between Chookagian and top contender, Lauren Murphy (14-4).

The two fought back in 2016 with Chookagian picking up the win. However, Murphy has now won four in a row which has placed her third in the rankings. A matchup between the two could be a title eliminator.

One storyline to watch out for in the UFC‘s flyweight division in 2021 is a potential champion versus champion super fight. Weili Zhang (21-1) is the UFC’s strawweight champion and widely considered one of the best in the world.

If she’s able to defend her title once or twice successfully in 2021, I wouldn’t rule out her moving up to challenge Shevchenko. Dana White has already said that he likes the idea. The flyweight division is definitely one to watch in 2021.

What’s next for Jennifer Maia after UFC 255?

This past weekend at UFC 255, Jennifer Maia (18-7-1) was one of the biggest underdogs of all time in a title fight. She took on the undisputed queen of the flyweight division, Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) for the UFC flyweight title.

If Maia had pulled off the upset, she would have been the biggest underdog in history to have captured UFC gold. Most, including myself, thought that Shevchenko would maul the challenger. However, Maia proved to be much tougher than anyone anticipated.

While Shevchenko would still go on to win at UFC 255, Maia really challenged her. It was evident from the very beginning that Maia was very strong in the clinch. In the second round of the fight, Maia completely controlled the champion along the fence and on the ground.

Maia’s physical strength was something that most people didn’t give her credit for. Shevchenko has been so dominant in the UFC‘s flyweight division that she had only lost one round prior to Saturday night. Maia for the most part dominated the second round of their fight.

However, that would be the only round she would win. Shevchenko was still dominant on the feet and used her superior grappling to win most of the exchanges. Still, Maia’s toughness proved a lot about her on Saturday night.

What’s next after UFC 255?

Even in a fight where she lost four of the five rounds, Maia’s stock went up on Saturday night. It was clear that she was still not the superior fighter, however, she was not nearly as out of her league as most people thought.

If there wasn’t a Valentina Shevchenko, it wouldn’t shock me if Maia was a future UFC champion. I think a good next fight with Maia could be a contest with Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1). Both fighters will still be in the UFC‘s top five after Saturday night.

Calvillo also competed at UFC 255 where she came up short against Katlyn Chookagian. I think pairing these two up would make for a very entertaining grappling contest. Calvillo’s wrestling versus Maia’s BJJ skills would be fun, and it’s a good logical next fight for both women.

What’s next for Valentina Shevchenko after UFC 255?

Last night at UFC 255, Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) successfully defended her flyweight title. Challenger Jennifer Maia was game, but in the end, Shevchenko walked away with her hand raised with the UFC title wrapped around her waste.

It was an interesting fight for the UFC flyweight champion. Everyone expected Shevchenko to just walk through Jennifer Maia. However, that didn’t happen last night. The challenger was much tougher than anticipated.

In the first round, Shevchenko controlled the fight from Maia’s guard. Shevchenko used her wrestling and grappling skills a lot last night to takedown Maia. However, the strategy was a little puzzling.

Jennifer Maia looked incredibly strong last night. In fact, the challenger won the second round by controlling Shevchenko in the grappling exchanges. That being said, the fight on the feet was not very close between the two women.

Maia would land some good shots here and there, but for the most part, it was all Shevchenko. I think Shevchenko could have finished the fight if she would have just kept it standing. But, at the end of the day, she walked out of UFC 255 victorious and that’s what matters.

What’s next after UFC 255?

After the event was over, UFC President Dana White made it clear on what he thinks is going to be next for Shevchenko. White told the media in the post-fight press conference that Jessica Andrade (21-8) will be next in line to face Shevchenko.

Andrade is the former UFC strawweight champion. She just made her flyweight debut last month when she took on former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian. Andrade blitzed through Chookagian and finished her in the first round.

Jessica Andrade finally looks like she’s fighting in her natural weight class. She could poise some interesting challenges for Shevchenko, but the UFC flyweight champion should still be a sizeable favorite going into that matchup.

White didn’t give a timetable on when that fight could possibly take place. My guess is that we could see that fight booked around March or April. I think it’ll be a fight that should really excite the UFC fans.

Valentina Shevchenko challenged, but defeats Jennifer Maia at UFC 255

In the co-main event of UFC 255, the women’s flyweight title was on the line. Reigning champion, Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) was looking to continue her dominance at 125 pounds while Jennifer Maia (18-6-1) was looking to pull off the massive upset.

It truly doesn’t get much better than Valentina Shevchenko. The UFC‘s flyweight champion has virtually gone untouched in her career outside of her two losses to Amanda Nunes which were both close. At flyweight, her dominance has been astonishing.

Maia entered the evening as one of the biggest underdogs in a title fight in a very long time. UFC 255 was her chance to prove everyone wrong just as she did when she earned the title shot over JoJo Calderwood. Sure the odds were close, but Calderwood was still a favorite.

The fight was supposed to be a tune-up for Calderwood’s UFC title shot. Instead, Maia was able to submit her in the first round to take the title shot away from her. However, there was a much taller order in front of her tonight.

UFC 255 Recap: Shevchenko – Maia

Round 1

As the first round of the UFC 255 co-main event of the evening got underway, Shevchenko immediately opened with big kicks. Shevchenko landed a big left hand then immediately used a headlock to land a takedown on Jennifer Maia.

The UFC champ landed some decent shots to the body from Maia’s guard, but the action was slow on the ground. Maia seemed content with just holding Shevchenko in place while the two were on the ground. Shevchenko then landed two very big elbows from the guard.

The champ’s pressure was very good from the guard. Maia appeared to be trying to raise her legs to attack a submission, but Shevchenko kept her in check. Limited action in the opening round but a dominant round for the champion.

Round 2

As the second round got underway, the UFC flyweight champion opened with a massive spinning back kick. Shevchenko landed a brief takedown, but Maia used a scramble to get back to her feet in the opening 30 seconds.

Maia then pushed Shevchenko back against the fence and started throwing some knees to the body. Shevchenko couldn’t get her back off the fence in the second round and then Maia was able to land a takedown of her own.

Maia pressed the UFC champion against the fence while she was on the ground and she started landing shots. Shevchenko attempted to threaten with a few submissions, but nothing got close. A very dominant second round for the challenger.

Round 3

As the third round of the UFC 255 co-main event got underway, Shevchenko landed a massive left straight in the opening seconds. Shevchenko really started opening up her striking in the opening minute of the third round.

Maia started to try to pressure Shevchenko, however, Shevchenko was doing a good job of keeping her at distance. Then Maia was able to grab ahold of the UFC champion and pushed her up against the fence again.

Shevchenko this time was able to push away and get back to striking range. Maia was starting to get lit up when the two were striking. The UFC champion landed a few massive shots then slammed Maia down with a takedown.

Shevchenko landed right into half guard and that is where the action slowed. Maia was able to get to butterfly guard and used it to get up to her feet. She then pushed Shevchenko back up to the fence. Decent moments for Maia but a clear round for Shevchenko.

Round 4

Entering the fourth round, the UFC champion should be ahead 2-1 on the scorecards. Shevchenko opened the striking with a massive left that staggered Maia. However, Maia’s chin seemed to be holding up in this one.

Shevchenko stepped forward with a solid 1-2 and her speed was really showing in the fourth round. Maia’s striking seemed much slower than Valentina’s in the fourth round. The UFC champ then got a body lock and slammed Maia to the ground.

Shevchenko landed again in half guard and she started to go to work with shots. Maia was trying to defend, but Shevchenko was able to take her back. Maia was able to spin back but she ate a couple of shots for the effort.

Shevchenko continued to land shots while holding Maia in place on the ground. Shevchenko appeared to be looking for an arm-triangle, but she wasn’t able to land it. Another clear round for the champion.

Round 5

As the final round got underway, Maia tried to push forward and land a takedown. She was able to push the UFC champion against the fence, but couldn’t get Shevchenko down in the first 30 seconds.

Shevchenko was able to reverse the position and back away to striking range. Shevchenko then landed a massive body kick and a brutal straight left. Maia was really starting to get lit up on the feet.

However, Shevchenko then engaged in the clinch and Maia was able to push her against the fence. Maia continued to try for takedowns, but Shevchenko was doing a fantastic job of staying on her feet.

Shevchenko was able to separate again and Maia looked busted up. The UFC champ was just picking Maia apart in the fifth round. Maia was game, but she was really wearing it in the final round.

Shevchenko landed a massive body kick as we entered the final minute. Both ladies landed some good shots in the final minute, but Shevchenko got the better of it. The fight closed with Shevchenko landing a couple of crisp shots.

Valentina Shevchenko def Jennifer Maia by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)

UFC 255 Preview: Valentina Shevchenko – Jennifer Maia

Tomorrow night in the UFC 255 co-main event, we will see one of the best pure martial artists in the world. Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) will take center stage as she defends her UFC flyweight title against top contender, Jennifer Maia (18-6-1).

When you think of the best fighters in the UFC man or woman, you have to think of Valentina Shevchenko. The UFC champion from Kyrgyzstan has no holes in her game. Her striking is world class and her grappling is world class.

Not too mention that she has a killer instinct that is only rivaled by Amanda Nunes. Nunes is widely considered to be the greatest female fighter of all time. The only two true losses Shevchenko has had in her career were to Nunes who is much bigger than she is.

That being said, both of their fights were close and a lot of people thought Shevchenko won the second fight. After the second loss to Nunes, the UFC started the flyweight division which is perfect for Shevchenko. The rest is simply history.

She has stormed through and dominated every opponent in her way at 125 pounds. Whether it’s striking or grappling, Shevchenko hasn’t really been challenged in her flyweight career. Jennifer Maia is looking to be the first person to do that.

Jennifer Maia earned this title shot by defeating top contender JoJo Calderwood. Calderwood was supposed to get the next shot at the title, but Shevchenko was injured. Maia stepped up and submitted Calderwood in the first round to take her UFC title shot.

Maia has improving striking skills, but she really shines on the mat. The Jiu Jitsu blackbelt has a very good top game, and in her last fight, she showed just how good she is off of her back.

UFC 255 Prediction

You can’t get more lopsided than the odds of tomorrow night’s UFC flyweight title fight. Shevchenko is closing at nearly -1700 on the current betting lines. There’s a good reason why she’s such a big favorite tomorrow.

The only area of the fight that Maia might have the advantage is on pure Jiu Jitsu skills. That’s not saying that she’s better when you factor in all of the other aspects of grappling like wrestling and clinch work.

In reality, I can’t see any scenario where Jennifer Maia walks out tomorrow night the UFC flyweight champion. The only way it happens is if somehow Shevchenko makes a giant mistake and gets caught in a submission.

Maia has improved striking skills, but I think she’s going to get lit up on the feet. I also don’t believe she has the wrestling skills to get the fight to the ground. I think this is going to be a one-sided beating for however long it lasts.

Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko by TKO – Round 3

What does Jennifer Maia have to do at UFC 255 to pull the upset?

Saturday night at UFC 255, Jennifer Maia (18-6-1) has the biggest opportunity of her career in front of her. She will be taking on the undisputed queen of the flyweight division in Valentina Shevchenko (19-3).

Shevchenko is one of the very best fighters in the world. Two of her three career losses have come to UFC two-division champion, Amanda Nunes. However, many people believe that Shevchenko won the second matchup with Nunes.

The UFC created the flyweight division and she has reigned supreme at 125 pounds. Shevchenko hasn’t even been challenged really at flyweight. She is the total package and is a matchup nightmare for anyone in the division.

For that reason, Jennifer Maia is a massive underdog on Saturday evening. However, Maia possesses a very good skillset and she shouldn’t be counted out. The former Invicta champion certainly has the confidence she needs to pull off the upset.

How does she win at UFC 255?

Back in August, Jennifer Maia took on JoJo Calderwood. Calderwood was supposed to get a UFC title shot back in June, but Shevchenko injured her knee. Instead of waiting around, Calderwood took a fight to remain active.

Maia was coming off of a loss to Katlyn Chookagian and many viewed the fight as a tune-up for Calderwood. Sure, Maia was a tough opponent, but the general assumption was that Calderwood would do what she needed to do.

That didn’t happen. Maia was very impressive on her feet then used her great Jiu Jitsu skills to submit Calderwood in the first round. After the fight was over, Maia was given the next shot at the UFC flyweight title.

So how does Maia have a chance on Saturday? While Maia looked good on her feet against Calderwood, she should have no illusions about trying to strike with Shevchenko. If she tries to keep the fight standing, I think she’ll get lit up like a Christmas tree.

Maia has to figure out a way to get this fight to the ground. She’s incredibly strong and has very slick submissions on the ground. Shevchenko is so good on the ground too, but if there’s one area where Maia is at or near the same level, it’s on the ground.

If Maia wants to dethrone the UFC‘s flyweight queen, she has to get it done on the mat. However, Shevchenko has proved that the ground is no picnic with her. The odds are lopsided for a reason, but in a fight, anything can happen.

UFC Booking Cynthia Calvillo – Katlyn Chookagian

The UFC is currently finalizing a big time flyweight contest for their November PPV. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the promotion is finalizing a flyweight contest between Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1) and Katlyn Chookagian (14-4).

The fight will take place on November 21st at UFC 255. The co-headliner that night is the women’s flyweight title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Jennifer Maia. This is a big matchup for both ladies who have their eyes on climbing the ranks.

We just saw Chookagian a few weeks ago when she took on Jessica Andrade at UFC Fight Island 6. Chookagian was looking for his second consecutive win as she was hoping to get another shot at UFC champion, Valentina Shevchenko.

However, she ran into a buzzsaw in Andrade. Despite looking like the much bigger fighter, Chookagian was bullied in the matchup. Late in the first round, Andrade landed a vicious hook to the body and a follow up that closed the show.

It was a devastating loss for Chookagian. Now, she will look to get back into the win column with a victory over Calvillo. With Calvillo being ranked fourth in the division, a win would put Chookagian right back into the title picture.

UFC 255 Flyweight Clash

Cynthia Calvillo will be making her second appearance in the UFC‘s flyweight division. She made her debut back in June when she headlined a card against former top contender, Jessica Eye. That night, Calvillo used her wrestling to get the victory.

At the time, Eye was the top ranked flyweight contender in the UFC. It was a big statement for Calvillo to pick up the victory that night. If she’s able to defeat Chookagian it would give her two wins over two top contenders in the flyweight division.

Whoever comes out on top at UFC 255 has to be in the title picture. Calvillo to me has more to gain from this matchup since she’s already coming off of a win. Chookagian has the most to lose however, given that if she loses to Calvillo she would be on a two fight losing streak looking at a steep climb back up the division.

Does Lauren Murphy deserve a title shot after UFC 254?

Lauren Murphy, UFC

One of the more vocal fighters after UFC 254 was flyweight contender, Lauren Murphy (14-4). Murphy was originally supposed to take on Cynthia Calvillo, but at the last minute she ended up fighting Lilya Shakirova at UFC 254.

The flyweight contender looked really solid in all areas on Saturday. Murphy looked solid on the feet, and she showed good skills on the ground. Murphy said she wanted to lock up her first submission victory and she was able to do just that.

UFC 254 marked the fourth straight time that Murphy has made the walk successfully. She’s taken on ranked opponents in the division and finished two of her last four opponents. Murphy was very vocal about wanting a title shot in her post-fight interview.

Later on at the post-fight press conference, Murphy continued to show frustrations of getting passed up. She talked about Jennifer Maia. getting the next shot at Valentina Shevchenko. Let’s just say that Murphy is not thrilled with Maia’s title shot.

What should the UFC do?

For context, JoJo Calderwood was originally supposed to face Valentina Shevchenko in June. However, the UFC champion sustained an injury that would cause the fight to be delayed. Calderwood decided to roll the dice and fight Maia.

Maia went on to finish Calderwood by submission in the first round. Because of the finish of the top contender, the UFC decided to give Maia the shot. However, her resume doesn’t really scream top contender as she’s just 3-2 in her last five fights.

Granted, her two losses were to former title challengers. Murphy does have a point in that she’s won four in a row against ranked caliber opponents. So what should the UFC do? Obviously, the promotion isn’t going to take away the title fight from Maia.

I also don’t think sitting and waiting is going to help Murphy. Instead, I think the UFC should book her against who’s probably the front runner for the next title shot, Jessica Andrade. Andrade made her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Island 6 and finished top contender Katlyn Chookagian. 

The former strawweight champion is finally competing in what she believes is her natural weight class. Andrade just fought and Murphy just fought. The logical move to me is to have the UFC pair both of them together and the winner should fight the flyweight champion early next year.

Did Jessica Andrade earn a title shot at UFC Fight Island 6?

This past weekend at UFC Fight Island 6, former strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade (21-8), moved up to flyweight for the first time. Andrade had competed at bantamweight and became the champion at strawweight during her UFC career.

Despite the success at strawweight, many people believed that flyweight was the best natural weight class for the former champion. She jumped right into the deep end of the pool taking on top ranked contender, Katlyn Chookagian (14-4).

Chookagian was coming off a dominant win and was just one fight removed from a UFC title shot. Many believed that the winner could be in good position to cash in on a UFC title shot. Well, Andrade made a massive statement on Saturday.

Andrade showed off her superior strength despite being the much smaller fighter. She threw Chookagian to the ground twice. Andrade then landed some vicious hooks to the body that crumbled Chookagian giving Andrade the first round TKO victory.

UFC title shot next?

Andrade was the second UFC strawweight to move up this year to take on the top contender at flyweight. Cynthia Calvillo did the same thing against Jessica Eye. That night, Calvillo also defeated the previously top ranked contender.

However, that fight was a grinding decision with a lot of wrestling. Andrade made a massive statement with the way that she was able to win on Saturday night. She completed dominated and finished the former title challenger.

Given the way that she won and her status as a former UFC champion, I think Andrade is definitely next in line to face the winner of the UFC 255 title match. In the most likely scenario that Valentina Shevchenko retains her title, I would be very excited to see the matchup between Shevchenko and Andrade.

Shevchenko would still be a sizable favorite in that potential UFC matchup. Many people believe that she might be the best female fighter in the world. I personally thought she beat Amanda Nunes the last time they fought. A Shevchenko – Andrade title fight would be very exciting for the division.

UFC books JoJo Calderwood – Jessica Eye

The UFC is planning on a big time women’s flyweight fight on their January 23rd fight night card. First reported by MMA DNA, JoJo Calderwood (14-5) will take on Jessica Eye (15-8, 1 NC) in a battle of two top six UFC flyweights.

For Calderwood, the fight against Eye is going to be a big chance for her to bounce back. Calderwood was originally supposed to get a UFC title shot back in June. However, due to an injury to the champion, the fight was called off.

Calderwood wanted to stay active so she took a short notice fight against Jennifer Maia. This proved to be a big mistake as Maia submitted her in the first round. Maia was awarded Calderwood’s UFC title shot for her submission victory.

This fight is also a big chance for Jessica Eye to bounce back. Eye is just a couple of fights removed from her shot at Valentina Shevchenko. Eye won against Viviane Araujo, however, she was not successful in her last outing.

She welcomed Cynthia Calvillo to the UFC‘s flyweight division back in June. Calvillo used a steady wrestling attack to stifle and defeat Eye by decision. It was a bad loss for the former top contender who also failed to make weight for the fight.

Sizing up this UFC matchup

This has all the makings for a really fun contest in the UFC‘s flyweight division. Calderwood has really good standup and she uses a variety of kicks and spinning techniques. Her style is pretty entertaining to watch when fights are standing.

Eye has very solid boxing of her own. Whenever she feels comfortable and in range, she’s a very tough opponent for anyone in the UFC‘s flyweight division. She’s going to have to be very active with her hands in this contest.

Whoever wins this fight could be right back in title contention. However, the loser of this contest is going to be looking at a steep climb to get back to the top. This should be a fantastic matchup with a lot on the line for both contenders.