Valentina Shevchenko vs. Liz Carmouche headlines UFC on ESPN+ 14 this August 10, 2019 at the Antel Arena in Montevideo, Uruguay.
One sentence summary
Record: Valentina Shevchenko 17-3 | Liz Carmouche 13-6
Odds Valentina Shevchenko -875 | Liz Carmouche +685
History / Introduction to the fighters
Shevchenko is on an impressive run when you think about it. The only fighter to beat Shevchenko besides Amanda Nunes (in competitive fights no less) is Liz Carmouche. And that fight — which we’ll get to later — is a complete mystery. Other than that Shevchenko has become something of a spirit animal almost more than a fighter. Despite her energy outside of the cage, she’s a complete surgeon inside the cage. Few fighters have her composure, and fewer still have her IQ. What I’m trying to say is that she’s unstoppable, and will not defeated in our lifetime. Unless...
Carmouche is something of an archetype. She’s big, she’s strong, she’s moderately dynamic, and it’s served her well. There’s nothing much beyond that. She’s won. She’s lost some. And the fact that she’s here in the main event says more about the desperation to keep Shevchenko hungry than the execution of the division to keep Shevchenko feeling challenged.
What’s at stake?
Rogan’s Narratives. Listen, I don’t mind Rogan. It seems like I do on Twitter. But I don’t. I’d even go so far as to argue that Phil (we miss you bruv! And no, dear readers: Phil has not left us...he merely knew better than to write about this event) is wrong about Rogan in his wonderful capsule of online cultural figures. But here’s the raw outline for when Rogan loses his way. We’ll call the favorite (in this case, Shevchenko) ‘Expected Outcome’, and the underdog (in this case, Carmouche), ‘Unpredictable Direction.’ When the Expected Outcome happens early, the narrative is about dominance, and next level skills. When the Unpredictable Direction happens early, the narrative is about surprise, and Who Could Have Thought. If Carmouche lands something early, or gets a takedown, expect Rogan (who isn’t even calling this event, but just pretend he is!) to struggle to notice the little things done in the interim. Rogan can talk technique, and he’s good with macro observations. But he can’t talk interactions, and struggles with the micro. He also has a weird fixation on physiology. Remember when JDS knocked out Werdum. “Look at the ears wiggle!” Damn. See what happens when Phil’s on vacation. I lose my head.
Where do they want it?
Shevchenko is just unreal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because I fail at diversifying my analysis, but she’s one of my favorite fighters to watch. Part of this is aesthetic. I’ve always loved watching patient fighters do violent things. It’s like the slow burn in an action movie to a classic Mexican standout. Machida was always one of my favorite fighters to watch. The difference between Machida and Shevchenko is that Valentina is a lot more commanding at range. Machida built his game in-and-out movement. His problem is that he never dictated pace as well as you’d expect him to. A lot of Machida’s early fights would see him gas late. Shevchenko has never had that problem. She controls the center of the cage, and makes very organic transitions into the clinch or onto the ground whenever the pace permits.
Carmouche is the polar opposite. Where Shevchenko blends a small array of strikes into a game of focused movement and range, Carmouche pressures with an array of techniques. Carmouche has some solid technical skill. She’s pretty well-rounded. Even though her striking isn’t extremely technical, she has incredible core strength. And she’s an able wrestler. The issues with Carmouche is that she’s a classic nickel-and-dime fighter. She’s not gonna paste an opponent with one strike, one takedown, or any one skill. She’s just gonna accrue advantages over time with her strength.
Insight from past fights
If you don’t about the weird backstory surrounding their first fight — with its tales of Whataburger celebration, and fast food matchmaking — I recommend reading about it. What we know is what we’ve long suspected about idiotic regional execution of MMA events: nobody knew anything. The fight took place outside, the fighters took the fight for a quick buck, it was snowing, and it ended with a cut. Not the Tiki Ghosn kind. Oddly enough, neither fighter contradicts one another. It sounds like Shevchenko controlled the pace, but Carmouche landed an upkick that cut her wide open and eventually it ended. A fight with shady matchmakers, ridiculous context, with the only sincerity coming from inside the closed cage — sounds like as good a place as any to discover insight. And it sounds like the same thing will happen, minus the bloody upkick.
Speaking of Whataburger, I can’t stop watching YouTube shows about food. If I’m ever in the neighborhood of the Apple Pan, the burgers are on me as long as you tell where to find the next best burger. Shoutout to Papa’s Burgers here in San Antonio. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s good wholesome fun on a property area that is one part food truck, and two-parts front yard.
Shevchenko. Carmouche isn’t fast enough to close the distance. So yea. Not much else I can add here. That head KO of Jessica Eye was one of the best setups I’ve ever seen. Valentina Shevchenko by Decision.