Pre-Fight Thoughts: Valentina Shevchenko -vs- Katlyn Chookagian
The co-main event for UFC 247 is, honestly, not a fight I very keen on experiencing. Not to denegrate the efforts and skill of either Valentina Shevchenko or Katlyn Chookagian, this pairing is just not a match-up I would have personally asked for. That being said, no one did ask me and this fight is actually happening.
My chief complaint about this fight is that I just do not see it being competitive or very thrilling to watch. Valentina Shevchenko is, without any argument from me, a very skilled MMA fighter. Working against her, however, is a very conservative, calculating style that, while very effective, typically produces very frusrating fights to behold. Shevchenko has no problem winning decisions and implements a highly defensive style that has proven all but impossible to crack.
Shevchenko's opponent, Katlyn Chookagian, is what I would consider the ideal match if you wanted to ensure a predictably unexciting fight. Chookagian is an ambitious striker, but her constant movement results in a lot of missed strikes and minimal power behind those that do land. Against a seasoned, elite striker like Valentina Shevchenko, I am expecting to see a very high volume and low accuracy, as Shevchenko does the reverse while taking little to no damage.
I don't think this is a very complex fight to predict. Chookagian has only the slimmest chance to pull off an upset; Valentina Shevchenko is currently miles ahead of her peers in the women's flyweight division. Katlyn Chookagian is a good fighter, but is severely overmatched here. With time and further development, I think she could pose a much more significant challenge and this fight could help her in the long-term. It's a good test of where Chookagian is at this point in her career, and I don't think her receiving a title shot was out of line either.
My expectations are very simple: Shevchenko, likely via decision — unless Chookagian makes a serious defensive error and gets wrecked like Jessica Eye — feels like a very safe bet. The best outcome would be that Katlyn Chookagian makes me eat my words and pulls off what I would consider to be a lesser miracle and knocks Shevchenko out. Like the main event, it would create tension for future fights and would build a new star in the wake of an upset, there is just no reason for me to put any faith in it happening.
The women's flyweight division continues to evolve and Shevchenko will meet her match eventually. We're still a long, long way out from this reality.
Published: February 8th, 2020.