UFC 247 breakdown: Will Valentina Shevchenko’s dominance continue so easily?

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MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the co-main event for UFC 247.

UFC 247 takes place Saturday at Toyota Center in Houston. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

Valentina Shevchenko (18-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 31 Weight: 125 lbs. Reach: 67″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Liz Carmouche(August 10, 2019)
  • Camp: Tiger Muay Thai (Thailand)
  • Stance/striking style: Southpaw/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ UFC flyweight champion
+ 17x muay Thai and K-1 championships
+ 9x IMFA Champ (56-2 as a pro)
+ Tae kwon do black belt (2nd dan)
+ 3 KO victories
+ 7 submission wins
+ 6 first-round finishes
+ Excellent footwork
^ Seldom out of position
+ Accurate check hook and counter cross
+ Hard knees, elbows and kicks
+ Crafty clinch game
^ Good trips and tosses
+ Strong positional grappler
^ Flashes scramble and submission savvy

Katlyn Chookagian (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC)

Katlyn Chookagian

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 31 Weight: 125 lbs. Reach: 68″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Jennifer Maia(Nov. 2, 2019)
  • Camp: Team Renzo Gracie (New York)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ CFFC flyweight and bantamweight titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ Karate and boxing background
+ Amateur MMA accolades
+ 2 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 2 first-round finishes
+ Consistent pace and pressure
+ Good feints, footwork and head movement
+ High-volume striker
^ Solid striking flow
+ Serviceable wrestling ability
^ Shows offensive and defensive fundamentals
+ Superb leg dexterity
^ Active and attacking guard

Point of interest: Scoring on a southpaw

The co-main event in Houston features a flyweight title fight that will see a talented contender attempt to take out a savvy southpaw striker.

Though lacking experience against UFC-level lefties in her pro career, Katlyn Chookagian shows a lot of promise in regards to the set of skills she brings to the table.

Coming from a background in both karate and boxing, Chookagian pays homage to each martial art in the way in which she conducts the traffic of her striking. Utilizing solid footwork and feints, Chookagian can either play the distance game off of her vast array of kicks or steadily box her way into range.

When opting to do the latter, Chookagian will often look to set up her offense through prodding jabs. Although finding said shots can sometimes be hard when facing a southpaw, Chookagian has shown that she’s not necessarily reliant on leading with her left, as the challenger arguably uses that side better as a check/in a countering fashion.

Whether she’s throwing away a right hand to land a left hook or doubling up on a cross to momentarily shift her stance, Chookagian has also gotten a bit more clever in her offensive approaches. And when she is feeling in stride, the 31-year-old American’s striking flow will steadily come to life as she looks to punctuate her presence with hard kicks to either the head or legs of her opposition.

Although Chookagian’s defensive head movement seems much more symbiotic with her punches, it still seems like she is available to be countered when throwing kicks – something that could prove problematic against her current counterpart.

Enter Valentina Shevchenko.

Indoctrinated into martial arts through her family, Shevchenko has been a practitioner of combat since age 4, amassing multiple titles in K-1 and the IFMA (the same organization where she fought and beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk three times).

A counter fighter by nature, Shevchenko wields all the weapons that a southpaw should never leave home without, keeping everything from check-hooks to counter crosses on a hair-trigger. And whenever someone tries to step off to her weak side, she offers answers in the form of spinning assaults that pair perfectly with liver kicks to help keep her opposition corralled.

Still, Shevchenko’s willingness to wait for the counter has costed her on the scorecards in certain bouts, which makes me wonder what her temperament will be heading into a matchup with a fighter who can quietly (if we’re not counting Chookagian’s kiai’s) steal rounds with volume and variety.

Next point of interest: Grappling initiations