Say Hello To The Bad Guy
We know everyone is on the Valentina Shevchenko (14-2) hype train after the win. She dispensed of top contender Juliana Pena (8-3) in less than two rounds – by armbar nonetheless. However Amanda Nunes (14-4) is a different animal, and unfortunately for Shevchenko, her power and confidence is on the rise.
Though we used the term “hype train”, Shevchenko is anything but. A solid striker whose technical skills are trumped only by her toughness, fighting for her seems like a religion. Her obsessive personality means she’s always in the gym, always training, and always getting better; the buddhist monk of the bantamweight division. Although most people think of Shevchenko as a striker, after her crafty performance against Pena last saturday I think it’s clear her skillset is complete.
The reason I’m giving Nunes the nod is more of the intangibles than anything pen and paper. Sure she’s the bigger fighter with the longer reach but so was Holly Holm. Sure she won the first matchup but just ask Urijah Faber, fighters evolve. No, the real reason Nunes will win this matchup is because she has come into her own. She’s like the Bruce Leroy of WMMA, after she got the title shot against Miesha Tate it was like her head was dunked in the water, and she came out a different fighter. She turned from a humble Brazilian to a brash, outspoken, almost heel type figure. She’s got a quiet confidence that you could see in the Ronda Rousey fight when she knew she was going to destroy her. No posing, just focus. Arm in arm with girlfriend and fellow fighter Nina Ansaroff , Amanda Nunes is letting the world know that her power is real, and she’s not apologizing for it.
If you look at her boxing it borders on the line of reckless. An aggressive style with little regard for the counter punch, relying mainly on power and volume. But much like a Conor McGregor, because there is no hesitation the punches come out like heat seeking missiles, devastating her opponents. The way she picked apart Miesha Tate with her power, the way she made short work of Ronda Rousey, these are not things to scoff at, these are very good fighters. This girl’s hands are a problem and I don’t think Shevchenko will be able to solve it.
The real question here is about cardio. Nunes tends to slow down in the later rounds and Shevchenko sets a constant pace that can drag her opponents into deep water. Besides that it seems Shevchenko is also good at reading her opponents and making adjustments on the fly, so if Nunes gets sloppy in the championship rounds things could get interesting. The issue with that logic is what if Nunes doesn’t get tired? One would imagine her coaches are well aware of her past issues and will implement a game plan to get her ready on fight night.
Besides the aforementioned I believe Nunes is the more dynamic striker (as seen in the first matchup) and she can hang with Valentina on the ground (also seen in the first matchup). Either way it will be a good scrap.
What do you guys think of the upcoming bout between Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, who takes the strap?
Lionel Harris-Spence is a writer, filmmaker, and functioning alcoholic. You can catch him screaming obscenities at flat screens on fight night.