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UFC on Fox 20: Holm vs. Shevchenko (7/23/2016) - Chicago, IL (United Center)

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UFC on Fox 20: Holm vs. Shevchenko 
July 23, 2016
Chicago, IL (United Center)

Holly Holm (135) vs. Valentina Shevchenko (133) - Shevchenko, DEC (unanimous)
Edson Barboza (155) vs. Gilbert Melendez (155) - Barboza, DEC (unanimous)
Francis Ngannou (259) vs. Bojan Mihajlović (228) - Ngannou, TKO (punches), R1 (1:34)
Felice Herrig (115) vs. Kailin Curran (116) - Herrig, SUB (rear naked choke), R1 (1:59)

Fox Preliminary Card:
Frankie Saenz (135) vs. Eddie Wineland (135) - Wineland, TKO (punches), R3 (1:54)
Darren Elkins (145) vs. Godofredo Castro (145) - Elkins, DEC (unanimous)
Kamaru Usman (170) vs. Alexander Yakovlev (170) - Usman, DEC (unanimous)
Michel Prazeres (155) vs. J.C. Cottrell (155) - Prazeres, DEC (unanimous)

Fight Pass Preliminary Card:
Alex Oliveira (170) vs. James Moontasri (170)  - Oliveira, DEC (unanimous)
Jim Alers (145) vs. Jason Knight (145) - Knight, DEC (split)
Luiz Henrique (253) vs. Dmitry Smolyakov (228) - Henrique, SUB (rear naked choke), R2 (3:58)

Event Bonuses ($50,000):
Performance of the Night: Eddie Wineland
Performance of the Night: Felice Herrig
Fight of the Night: Jim Alers vs. Jason Knight

Attendance: 10,287
Gate: $1 million
Rating: 1.8 (2.975 million viewers)

Cancelled Fights:
Ryan LaFlare vs. Alexander Yakovlev - Injury to Yakovlev
Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira - Johnson Withdrew Due to Personal Reasons
Tony Martin vs. Michel Prazeres - Injury to Martin (Neck)
George Sullivan vs. Héctor Urbina - Sullivan Removed Due to Potential USADA Compliance Issue

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Since George Sullivan was removed from his bout, Hector Urbina will weigh-in and serve as a potential replacement.

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Any thoughts on the main event and co-main event? I think they're two really interesting matchups.

First off, it's hard to say what Gil will look like after spending a year off. He might look like a beast against Barboza if Barboza allows him to establish some type of grappling advantage. He might try to look to tie Barboza up and stop him firing off rapid strikes in succession. He might try to do anything to slow him down. On the flip side, I don't know if Melendez is really ready for someone who throws in the manner that Barboza does and especially coming off a layoff. Maybe while Barboza is in reckless abandon mode, Melendez can clip him. However, I think since getting with Mark Henry, Barboza has gotten better at not rushing and learning how to not overcommit. I think that helped him tremendously against Felder and Pettis, two guys who can also throw with enough power to get you out of there. In a three round fight, all Barboza has to do is go at him for two of the three rounds. Cardio is an issue, but not as big of an issue when you have to possibly go an extra ten minutes. I'm leaning Melendez before I make my picks official, but the layoff plus what Barboza brings to the table gives me pause. 

While after the early weigh-in it's apparent Shevchenko is given up size to Holm, I still think a more pure kickboxing match makes it a really intriguing matchup just because I think Shevchenko is easily the best striker Holm has faced in MMA. Looking at Holm's resume, it's basically grapplers who are semi-decent enough at striking to have success in their careers and someone like Juliana Werner who is a lower level kickboxer disguised a "national champion" in like muay thai. That's why I think it will be interesting if Holm does try to grapple because she is the obviously bigger woman. However, Shevchenko does have underrated takedown defense (and in some ways offense as well) as evidenced in the Kaufman bout. However, I would also argue that Kaufman is not a good wrestler and Holm has underrated strength. I mean Holm was able to bully around Rousey without that much trouble, and Rousey so far and before that had been the biggest bully when it came to grappling at 135. I mean someone like Marloes Coenen was always a great submission grappler, but many times lacked the necessary strength to get it to the appropriate next step. That's what got Marloes whooped twice against Cyborg. For Holm to do that to Ronda, I think it is an impressive feat nonetheless. However, what gives me pause about picking Holm right off the bat, I feel that Holm really hasn't had to show that she can take punches and other strikes in MMA. Every fight she has had in MMA (up to and including the Tate bout) has been strike and keep away for the most part. That works well when you can starch people on AXS TV and run up the scoreboard against grapplers whose striking mechanics are not even at 50% of your level in the UFC. Knowing that she has been knocked out in boxing/kickboxing (and maybe briefly stung a bit against Rousey), I wonder if that is in the back of her mind that she is very much fallible. If Shevchenko is throwing heat, even for a 125 pounder fighting at 135, that could be something nasty that Holm doesn't want to deal with.

If she can deal with Shevchenko, I feel that she can take the belt from Nunes easily just because Nunes stylistically is not a threat if you can shade away from the early onslaught. If Nunes got her down, it would be quite a different story but I feel that Holly should for the most part outmuscle her especially later on. On the other hand, if it turns into a striking warfare between the two ladies in the main event on Saturday, it could be a back and forth 25 minute fight that Shevchenko might pull out the victory in.

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Really fun fight between Knight and Jim Alers. Good to see the Kawajiri fight wasn't indicative of what Knight could do.

Finally, my home state gets another fighter in the UFC.

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Not even completely halfway through the card yet, and there have been a bunch of 10-8 rounds scored.

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22 minutes ago, Elsalvajeloco said:

Not even completely halfway through the card yet, and there have been a bunch of 10-8 rounds scored.

FXD7dZL.gif

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Good to see Wineland get back on track. Impressive that he was able to stop a durable Frankie Saenz.

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Gilbert Melendez is about to be 1-4 in the UFC. Crazy turn of events.

Barboza just chopped him down.

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I think Ronda vs Holly will still do big numbers. That's the match fans want too see.

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It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I have a feeling Ronda at this point would back sooner rather than later, and they needed to see how this bout went.

Nunes vs. Shevchenko II isn't a marquee fight, and I doubt the UFC wants to see Nunes punt Pena in one round potentially.  Nunes is a new opponent for Rousey, and you can get the curiosity thing involved. She's a big puncher who isn't afraid to grapple.

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Edson looked fantastic again. Dealt with pressure well and recovered quickly from the knockdown. He'll have to live with that chin of his. It may be the only thing holding him back from the title at this point.

I wonder how many of Valentina's sig. strikes were check right hooks? That was getting silly how easily she was landing that.

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1 hour ago, Oyaji said:

Edson looked fantastic again. Dealt with pressure well and recovered quickly from the knockdown. He'll have to live with that chin of his. It may be the only thing holding him back from the title at this point.

I wonder how many of Valentina's sig. strikes were check right hooks? That was getting silly how easily she was landing that.

@caposa on Twitter made a good point about the right hooks. Rogan, I believe in round 2, said that Shevchenko was being a bit predictable with the check right hooks. The problem was that Holm was so predictable with her feints that when Holly actually threw that left hand, all Shevchenko did was throw the check right hook, step off to the side to avoid the left hand, and throw the low kick behind it. It was textbook.

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It's odd, Holm is supposed to be this great striker (and she's out of Jackson/ Wink, a great camp), but she really ran out of ideas in this fight, and stuck with a tactic that clearly wasn't working (and was showing no indication of ever working). You'd think someone would have realised she was well down on the scorecards and needed to go all out for a KO, but she plodded late, when exploding was her only chance.

Or is Shevchenko just the female Demetrious Johnson and nobody realised before?

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1 hour ago, AxB said:

It's odd, Holm is supposed to be this great striker (and she's out of Jackson/ Wink, a great camp), but she really ran out of ideas in this fight, and stuck with a tactic that clearly wasn't working (and was showing no indication of ever working). You'd think someone would have realised she was well down on the scorecards and needed to go all out for a KO, but she plodded late, when exploding was her only chance.

Or is Shevchenko just the female Demetrious Johnson and nobody realised before?

I was listening to the Heavy Hands podcast that previewed this event and they brought up something that pretty much spells out why Holly Holm lost this fight.  Holm doesn't strike with any creativity at all.  When she decides to throw a combination, she decides what she's going to throw without any thought to what her opponent is going to do.  She decides to throw a jab, cross, hook and no matter what her opponent shows her she's not going to switch once she makes that decision.  Her striking is good, because she's outstanding at fighting at her distance and she's extremely active.  Shevchenko is much better at seeing what her opponent is doing and countering it.  That is why she was constantly hitting that check hook, and almost killed Holly with those crazy counter spinning back fists. Holly's striking is really good for woman's bantamweight, but she's not an elite striker in MMA like someone like Joanna Jedrzejczyk or Jose Aldo.  The elite strikers are able to adapt at whatever their opponent is doing and punish them for their mistakes.  Holly's ability is based purely on the fact that she is so technically sound, but there really isn't much dynamism to her approach.  

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