Can Jennifer Maia upset Valentina Shevchenko?

Can Jennifer Maia upset Valentina Shevchenko?

Feb 8, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Valentina Shevchenko (red gloves) fights Katlyn Chookagian (blue gloves) during UFC 247 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The co-main event for UFC 255 features a flyweight title fight that will pit a combination-striking contender up with a savvy, southpaw counter fighter.

Hailing from the Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil, Jennifer Maia embodies a lot of the striking spirit that is synonymous with her home region.

Attempting to stay light but loaded on her feet, Maia tends to shuffle into resets as she sometimes taxis about before making her approach. Once finding an entry point to her liking, Maia seems to have little issue in coming forward, putting together almost-preset combinations that are punctuated with hard hooks and leg kicks.

The Brazilian will also occasionally look to intercept and improvise with knees up the middle, as Maia tends to extend exchanges when feeling in stride. That said, Maia will still need to remember that more offense can often mean more opportunities for counters – especially against someone with the acumen of Valentina Shevchenko.

Indoctrinated into martial arts through her family, Shevchenko has been a practitioner of combat sports since she was 4, amassing multiple titles in K-1 and the IFMA (the same organization where she fought and beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk three times).

A counter fighter by nature, Shevchenko wields all the weapons that a southpaw should never leave home without, keeping everything from check-hooks to counter crosses on a hair-trigger. And whenever someone tries to step off to the champion’s weak side, she offers answers in the form of spinning assaults that pair perfectly with liver kicks to help keep her opposition corralled.

Still, Shevchenko’s willingness to wait for the counter has cost her some scorecards before, which makes me wonder what her temperament will be heading into a matchup with a fighter who may be looking to steal rounds from the champ.

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