It’s not sexist to say that power hitting is extremely rare in WMMA; most knockouts are a result of an accumulation of damage rather than sheer concussive force.
“The Lioness” changed that.
Miesha Tate was a tad unrefined, but tough as nails as proven by her last-minute comeback submission over champion Holly Holm. But the first clean right hand she ate from Amanda Nunes (14-4) made her cower unlike anything we’d ever seen. Ronda Rousey’s overblown title reign was ended by Holm, but that was effective counter-fighting. Nunes, on the other hand, simply stood in front of Rousey while throwing sledgehammer blows at her jaw and shrugging off clinch attempts until the referee stepped in.
Perhaps because of those two highlight wins, it’s easy to forget that Nunes is a well-rounded fighter.
She has a black belt in BJJ and a brown belt in judo. She won’t be hip tossing opponents Rousey style, but she’s capable of catching kicks and tripping opponents from the clinch. That last skill is incredibly handy as one of the ways to neutralize a power puncher is to crowd them by clinching. She’s not a dynamic submission artist, instead preferring to use her grappling accolades to maintain a top position and rain down power shots.
The only knock against Nunes is that she doesn’t have the type of compact, efficient strikes needed for combinations. Her power shots need a full extension, so if she doesn’t connect her opponents can usually skip away with no problem.
Because she’s rather small for the division and lacks a good highlight reel, it can be easy to write Valentina Shevchenko (14-2) off.
“Bullet” is the best striker in the women’s bantamweight division to date. Her punches and kicks are tight and efficient, stinging rather than punishing but never ripe for counters. She doesn’t chase the Thai plum, but will slap it on her opponent if the opportunity presents itself. It is here that her power magnifies as her elbows and knees can stagger women far larger than herself.
But where Shevchenko really leaves the field behind is her defence.
Because she’s fought and won against many of the world’s best kickboxers and Muay Thai practitioners, no one in the UFC can surprise her on the feet. It’s absurd to watch the diminutive Shevchenko use subtle slips and leans to make her far larger opponents swing at air. It’s rare for such a short fighter without one punch knockout power to be a counter fighter, but Shevchenko is probably the best in WMMA right now.
The only problem is that because Shevchenko is so small, it’s possible to bully her onto the ground and keep her there. She can be cut and bruised when put on her back, but her defence is savvy enough that she can’t be finished. That being said, she has trouble getting off her back when her opponent is still fresh, which is a problem in the 10-point scoring system.
Each fighter has only had two fights since their first match and have shown some small improvements. Nunes doesn’t “wing” her power shots as much, and Shevchenko showed a much slicker ground game with her submission of Julianna Pena.
That being said, their first fight should be used as the blueprint to make predictions.
In the first two rounds, Nunes took Shevchenko down and brutalised her with ground strikes. In the final round, Shevchenko repeatedly stuffed Nunes’s takedown attempts and used knees and elbows to wobble her. Despite taking the decision by winning rounds one and two, Nunes was tiring and fading at the end of the final frame while Shevchenko was bouncing around and throwing combinations.
This is a five round fight. Considering that Shevchenko’s ground game has noticeably improved, it’s not a stretch to think that Nunes is going to tire after the first couple rounds again. If this fight goes into the championship rounds, it’s very likely going to be the challenger’s fight. So to keep her belt, Nunes is going to have to finish Shevchenko.
But like we’ve said before, what can Nunes show Shevchenko that she hasn’t seen before?
Shevchenko via Unanimous Decision
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?