UFC Picks For Holm vs. Shevchenko

Luis Chaves

Friday, July 8, 2016 3:48 PM UTC

Friday, Jul. 8, 2016 3:48 PM UTC

Holly Holm returns to the Octagon after suffering her first MMA career defeat and the loss of her women's bantamweight title. Let's review the UFC odds as she prepares to take on Muay Thai champ Valentina Shevchenko.

Holly Holm's Fight for Redemption
It has been a whirlwind for Holly Holm (10-1, 7 KO's, 0 Subs), who shocked the MMA world and created a seismic shift in the UFC women's bantamweight division when she knocked out the seemingly indestructible Ronda Rousey in November of last year. Her reign was short-lived as she lost her crown to the sublime grappling skills of Miesha Tate back in March at UFC 196 and now begins the long climb back to title contention.

Even the most casual MMA fan is aware of Holm's legendary boxing pedigree. But few could have suspected that it would translate so seamlessly into the world of mixed martial arts where takedowns, takedown defense, and grappling tactics play such an integral role. Ronda Rousey's fatal mistake was her willingness to fight Holm at her own elite game. Despite her evolution from pure grappling genius to lethal hybrid, Rousey was unable to stand-and-trade with the pugilistic sensation, which led to the stunning upset.

However, Holm's Achilles Heel was exposed in her last match when she fought Miesha Tate for the women's bantamweight strap. The UFC odds makers installed Holm as a sizeable favorite but I analyzed that matchup and confidently included Miesha Tate as a +295 underdog in my UFC picks on that Saturday night in March. Holm's grappling inexperience was exactly what Tate needed to exploit and she did what Ronda Rousey failed to do. Tate wanted no part of the standup game and wisely looked to take the fight to the mat. Rousey did this as well but did so only after she was blistered by a barrage of Holm's prolific punches and strikes. Rousey was already out on her feet when she tried for takedowns that were easily defended by Holm. After getting passed over for a rematch with Tate, it's time for Holm to rebuild her brand and prove she is still the lethal weapon that slew the giant on November 15th last year.


Fight Breakdown
The Preacher's Daughter will be fighting a vastly different opponent on July 23rd than she did in her last match when she steps inside the Octagon with Valentina Shevchenko (12-2, 4 KO's, 5 Subs). Shevchenko is an accomplished fighter with a more well-rounded and pedigreed background than most. She has made her bones in the MMA world courtesy of a masterful Muay Thai arsenal as well as holding black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Judo. She is not as deft on the mat as Tate or Rousey but she has five submissions to her credit that prove she can get the job done if the fight falls to the floor.

This will be a striker versus striker battle. Holm has a three-inch height and two-inch reach advantage which could be a big factor. However, Shevchenko could use those whipping Muay Thai kicks on Holm like she's chopping down an oak tree. Holm has certainly learned how to employ her front kicks to rebuff attacks and set her range for punching combinations. But Shevchenko is used to deflecting kicks from all angles so Holm will not show her anything she hasn't seen before.

This fight is far closer than the oddsmakers are dealing it. The average fan is convinced that Holm will redeem herself from her title loss to Miesha Tate and get back in line for another shot. However, Shevchenko is a world class fighter and if she closes the distance and delivers her withering attack comprised of knees and elbows, it could very well begin to break down Holm. In addition, the 5'5" Russian also has the chops to win this fight on the mat if she can take Holm there. Although the old saying goes that there is no value in losing, there is too much here not to bet Shevchenko.

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Free UFC Pick: Valentina Shevchenko +325 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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