There is no other current UFC champion that seems further ahead of their respective division than Valentina Shevchenko. Mighty Mouse is overseas. Jon Jones is coming off a fight many felt that he lost. Even Cris Cyborg, who held the strap in a division with a grand total of two people, is now just another contender.
Part of that has to do with 125 being a brand new, still forming weight class. But most of that is just because Shevchenko is so freaking good. This is, after all, the same woman who nearly captured the bantamweight belt and gave WMMA GOAT Amanda Nunes all she could handle – twice.
But for all her dominance, Shevchenko is lacking in starpower, which explains why she’s defending her title on a streaming ESPN+ show in the faraway land of Uruguay. Standing opposite of her will be Liz Carmouche, who only needed a two-fight win streak to get the No. 3 ranking. We did say this was a thin division.
The two other fights that you should be paying attention to here are a welterweight matchup between Mike Perry and Vicente Luque, and a twice-rescheduled light heavyweight tilt featuring Volkan Oezdemir and Ilir Latifi.
As usual, we’re perusing the UFC odds at the top 5 online sportsbooks to make sure you’re getting the best prices on each of our recommended bets. We’re particular to BookMaker.eu, which offers live UFC betting to let you hedge your bets between rounds.
Main Event, Women’s Flyweight Championship
Valentina Shevchenko -1000 (Sportsbook Int) vs. Liz Carmouche +867 (SportBet)
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +120 (Willam H) / -145 (BookMaker.eu)
The Obvious Pick: Parlay Shevchenko to win at -1000
Shevchenko has already reached that tier where she’ll be a massive favorite against pretty much everyone in the division. Get used to seeing her regularly reach -1000 while she takes what pretty much are the equivalent of stay-busy fights for the champ. Talk about easy money.
No disrespect to Carmouche: she’s a gritty chick that’s earned matchups against some of extremely well-respected fighters – like Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Alexis Davis – throughout the course of her career. She’s a solid grinder, but relies too much on natural strength rather than technique. Basically, she’s bringing a knife to a gunfight against one of the most technical fighters in WMMA.
On the feet, Carmouche gets lit up by the former pro Muay Thai champ. When’s the last time you’ve seen Shevchenko muscled around? Carmouche doesn’t have the power to do so. Overall, Carmouche has peaked as a fighter, and her ceiling is way lower than Shevchenko’s, who is fighting at a career-high level right now.
Solid Value: Shevchenko inside the distance -145
The champ has a reputation as a conservative points fighter, but she’s actually earned stoppages in two of her past three. Carmouche’s subpar striking puts her at serious risk of getting knocked out or compromised to the point of getting subbed.
Vicente Luque -213 (Bet365) vs. Mike Perry +196 (SportBet)
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +200 (William H) / -245 (BookMaker.eu)
Straight Up Play: Vicente Luque to win at
This matchup is the perfect example of how the UFC mismanages their marketing efforts. Perry is a tatted up knockout artist with a really good mean mug. Those guys are always easy to sell – but “Platinum” hasn’t come through despite getting chance after chance. In fact, he looked likely to flame out until a recent move to Jackson-Wink gave him new life and some much-needed corner men.
It’s Luque who the UFC should have been pushing. The Brazilian might not speak English or talk much trash, but he’s fun as hell to watch. You’ve got to love a guy that throws everything at 100% from start to finish. And when he’s not winging bombs, he’s diving onto one submission or another. He’s kind of like a Tony Ferguson, without the endless cardio, and the results speak for themselves: 9 knockouts, 6 submissions in 15 career wins.
While Perry has been quietly restructuring his game, Luque’s got too many weapons and can fall back on his higher output. While Perry’s knockout power needs to be respected, we still need to see him perform consistently before we start picking him against lowkey monsters like Luque.
Volkan Oezdemir -135 (Pinnacle) vs. Ilir Latifi +124 (BetDSI)
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +150 (William H) / -185 (SportBet)
Straight Up Play: Oezdemir to win at -125
This is a somewhat risky play: every loss in Oezdemir’s three-fight slide surfaced a different weakness. Cormier dominated him with wrestling. Anthony Smith jumped on a quick sub in a fight that Volkan was winning. Dominick Reyes took a split decision after Volkan’s cardio let up.
But Latifi is a step down, both literally and figuratively. A short, stocky 5’8”, the Swede will have a lot of trouble getting anything going on the feet. A historically low output doesn’t help matters either. Oezdemir’s takedown defense isn’t impenetrable, but Latifi doesn’t have the deep wrestling skill to get this to the mat whenever he wants. He’ll most likely end up trying to clinch for most of the fight, only to fall behind on significant strikes landed and lose a unanimous decision.
Check out the latest UFC betting odds.