UFC 255 Predictions: Valentina Shevchenko Near-Certain to Continue Flyweight Streak vs. Jennifer Maia
Valentina Shevchenko makes a return to the Octagon at UFC 255 on Saturday (November 21) when she faces Jennifer Maia hoping to extend her record streak as women’s flyweight champion.
“Bullet” (19-3) is already the longest-reigning UFC women’s flyweight champion at three title defenses over a period of around 700 days, almost three times as long as inaugural titleholder Nicco Montano (280 days).
Prediction for UFC 255 Fight: Shevchenko via KO/TKO
Her UFC 255 opponent, Maia (18-6-1), has the greatest opportunity of her career after being handed the title shot despite a so-so 3-2 record since joining the UFC. The Brazilian submitted Joanne Calderwood on August 1 to get her chance at the flyweight belt, but a +750 billing with Borgata reflects the scale of the challenge she faces in toppling the titleholders:
Unfortunate not to win a championship at bantamweight, Shevchenko has looked a class above any opponent to date at 125 pounds. Borgata back the Kyrgyzstani–Peruvian powerhouse as overwhelming -1250 moneyline favorite, and there’s little reason to believe an upset will unfold.
In short, the gulf in striking pedigree is so stark that Maia must get things to the ground in order to have a chance of utilising her grappling, the only area in which she has an argument to be Shevchenko’s superior. The problem: many have tried but failed to outwit Shevchenko’s stellar takedown defense, and her peerless striking is often too much of a distraction to get that far.
Mixed martial arts reporter Seán Sheehan summarised the frontrunner’s threat in Saturday’s co-main event, arguably the most lopsided matchup of either fighter’s career thus far:
The smart money here is on Shevchenko getting the finish, and fast. Maia once suffered a knockout within 10 seconds when she faced Sheila Gaff under the Cage Warriors banner in March 2012, and there’s a genuine chance she’ll ‘beat’ that time at UFC 255.
bet365 offers New Jersey customers -134 odds that Shevchenko will win via KO/TKO—decent enough value at almost double-your-money range—but round betting looks like the real money-maker. She’s won two of her five flyweight fights in the second round, which is worth a punt at +450 on this occasion, while a third-round victory in Shevchenko’s favor returns +650 odds.
UFC 255: Shevchenko vs. Maia Moneyline Odds
Valentina Shevchenko: -1250
Jennifer Maia: +750