Photo Credit: Jason Silva – USA TODAY Sports
UFC 247 sees two championship bouts take headlining and co-headlining status this weekend at the Toyota Centre. Within those two features – we’ve got a pair of the promotion’s most dominant, standout, gold-holders.
Jon Jones defends his light heavyweight crown against the undefeated, Dominick Reyes – while flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko looks to remain pack leader at 125-pounds, as she takes on number-one contender, Katlyn Chookagian. Two streaking striking standouts with the uncanny ability to make even the most promising challengers look basic.
The 31-year-old Muay Thai specialist, Valentina Shevchenko enters her third Octagon bout as defending champion – after what’s proven to be, a successful excursion to the flyweight division. The Kyrgyzstan native has only been bested thrice in her professional career – and avenged that opening loss with a dominant victory over Liz Carmouche last August, in a relatively forgetful five-frame affair. Her only other two defeats, bantamweight ties with current featherweight and 135-pound best, Amanda Nunes.
If we take a look at the re-run of Nunes vs. Shevchenko – a solid case can be made to suggest the Tiger Muay Thai trainee earned Octagon gold that night in 2017. A hugely close split decision was awarded to Brazil’s Nunes, who was awarded a 48-47 judging. As both competitors continue to run through and clear out the competition in each of their respective divisions – it seems only a matter of time until Nunes and Shevchenko clash in a trilogy bout.
Firstly, Shevchenko must get past Renzo Gracie trainee, Katlyn ‘Blonde Fighter’ Chookagian. A sharp, technical karate practitioner with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Along with those accolades on paper – Chookagian has challenging lateral movement, an almost point-fighting, offense limiting style and the ability to set a pace over the course of each of her three-round triumphs. With Shevchenko, we’ve got a quite similar, yet more devastating striker.
Shevchenko has one of the soundest check right hooks in mixed-martial-arts today – often finishing combinations, or countering with that technique – evident in her one-sided win over former bantamweight best, Holly Holm. Against Jessica Eye, Shevchenko also displayed the frequently overlooked grappling aspect of her overall game. Scoring two takedowns in the opening round, Eye was severely limited off her back – before that brutal second-round high-kick landed for ‘Bullet’. Against Chookagian, Shevchenko may not have her own way considering the Quakertown native’s grappling credentials.
Against former Muay Thai foe and strawweight champion, Joanna Jędrzejczyk – a striker with almost impeccable takedown defense, Shevchenko scored an eye-catching five separate successful shots, on her way to a comfortable unanimous decision victory. Jędrzejczyk doesn’t offer offensive grappling like Chookagian – but Shevchenko’s ability to dictate where and how the course of a bout will play out should cause some concern for the Manhattan-based all-rounder.