UFC on FOX features Holm returning after losing title to Tate

July 19, 2016 3:06 AM
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After an extremely successful UFC Fight Week which culminated with the highly anticipated UFC 200 card that did not disappoint, the UFC returns this coming Saturday. Chicago, Illinois plays host to UFC Fight Night which showcases the women’s bantamweight division as its main event.

Not too long ago the 135 lb weight class was dominated by Ronda Rousey, but since she lost the strap less than one year ago we’ve seen it change hands already twice.

The UFC Women’s Bantamweight title currently resides around the waist of Amanda Nunes, who completely demolished Miesha Tate in her very first defense at UFC 200. After multiple attempts at capturing the title, Tate was finally successful in March of this year. Ironically, the woman she beat for the bantamweight belt was also trying to defend her newly acquired hardware for a first time.

That woman is Holly Holm (10-1), the only mixed martial artist to beat the previously unbeaten Ronda Rousey. She did so via a second round knockout in a bout that Holm entered into as a considerable underdog. But Holm exited the Octagon as a champion after using her superior striking to dismantle Rousey.

Rather than wait for what would undoubtedly be one of the most highly anticipated rematches in the promotion’s history, and uppermost grossing in terms of revenue, Holm instead chose to defend her title sooner rather than later. With no time table set for Rousey’s return, the newly crowned champion faced off against Tate and lost her title.

Now Holm tries to make her ascent back to No. 1 contender status as one half of the UFC Fight Week main event. The second half of this main event, her opponent Valentina Shevchenko (12-2), will aim to play spoiler to Holm’s plan while also attempting to rise up that very same ladder.

The current betting line has the former champion listed as a -330 favorite, with the take back on Shevchenko +270. Oddsmakers initially opened the bout as high as -405 but it’s since dropped after bookmakers attracted some early money on the underdog.

Though many casual fight fans may not have heard of Valentina Shevchenko, rest assured she’s very well known in the mixed martial arts community. Having been highly regarded as one the most accomplished female kickboxers on the planet, Shevchenko has captured many world titles in Muay Thai.

In fact she attained a 56-2 record as a professional in K-1, and beat the UFC 115 lb champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Her greatest asset seems to be her clinch game which isn’t surprising for such an accomplished Mauy Thai fighter.

Holm showed in her bout with Rousey that she’s more than just the most dangerous boxer in the bantamweight division. She was able to avoid being taken down and actually put Rousey on the mat in their fight. Prior to crossing over into MMA, Holm was arguably the greatest professional female boxer of all time.

So nobody was surprised at how well she was able to use her hands. But it’s been her use of kicks that’s made her striking so difficult to deal with. Coupled with a take-down defense that’s seen her avoid 86% of opponent’s attempts, Holm is becoming the total package. Trained by Greg Jackson, it’s no wonder she continues to add to her arsenal, both on offense and defense.

Look for Holm to avoid the clinch and keep Shevchenko at a distance while trying to systematically break her down. Having been able to defend 67% of opponent’s strikes compared to only 47%, Holm won’t be easy to hit.

Eventually, Shevchenko will look to close the distance and that’s when she’ll be most vulnerable. I expect to see Holm with her arm raised and one step closer to recapture UFC gold. Pick: Holm.

Twitter: @Greek_Gambler