This weekend, the UFC is back in action with their latest FOX fight night, live from Denver, Colorado. There are some really interesting fights on the card with strong emphasis on how #AndreiArlovski does against the rising star, #FrancisNgannou and the co-main event with "Cowboy" Cerrone and Jorge Masvidal. Mark my words, that fight is going to be great—a striking fan’s dream come true.
The bout with the most impact, the one that will undoubtedly lead to the next title shot in their division, is the main event between #ValentinaShevchenko and #JuliannaPena. Both ladies have been on very impressive win streaks, so it was inevitable that they would meet up at some point. Saturday night will be their proving ground in what will for sure be an exciting clash of styles. This is the bout we’ll be looking at a little closer in this breakdown blog.
On the feet, Pena throws wild, “hook like” punches. They are long straights, but thrown in an angle which, when the opponent simply moves backwards, is going to miss the target.
She throws them to close the distance and as a tool to secure the clinch, but why not make them better, like nice, long, straight shots combined with left hooks?
So, I would work on that since Shevchenko is a great striker who controls the range really well. When Pena only throws hooks, that will work perfectly for Valentina because she will let Pena miss while moving to the sides and countering with straight shots that she can follow up with whatever she wants.
Now, once Pena has the clinch, she likes that inside or outside leg trip. I would throw some knees before going for a takedown, and she does that very well already.
She also moves back in a straight line when her opponent attacks, but she shouldn’t. She needs to move to the side, otherwise Shevchenko can keep on punching. She could always throw out a “lazy shot” on purpose, letting Shevchenko counter. Then, she should move straight backwards (but done on purpose), giving her the opportunity to suddenly shoot forward to get the clinch.
When she has the clinch, Pena will go for the takedown I mentioned above, then position herself in side mount or half guard, followed by elbows with strikes. This is where she will look for submissions to end the fight.
Pena needs to watch out for “loading up” her left hand, as she does this a lot, and it will telegraph her intent to Valentina.
Valentina needs to keep this fight on the feet. She knows she is the better striker, so why even test your ground skills if you can avoid it by using a tried and true weapon? It’s all about footwork for her; staying just outside Pena’s reach and working angles. These are things she already does very well.
She has a black belt in judo, but again, why even go to the ground? If it happens to end up there, she’s more than competent enough to get the job done, but she really should focus on keeping this fight standing.
When Pena throws a left hand first, she pretty much always loads up, so Shevchenko can see those coming and can counter by using angles to mount her own attack.
Every time after attacking or countering, we want movement, not only with her upper body/head, but movement using her feet. Do not stand in front of Pena, because doing that fits right into her ultimate game plan of securing the clinch and going for the takedown.
We should see plenty of movement, and this will also allow Valentina to throw strikes from the outside, still, don’t be there too long, stick and move!
If it does go to the ground and Shevchenko is on top, she should stay out of Pena’s guard. If it goes to the ground and Pena is on top, she needs to get Pena in the guard ASAP.
I’m not one for predictions, but I’d go out on a limb to say this will be a great fight with plenty of action. I know I’m looking forward to seeing it.
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