UFC on Fox 23 – Taking a Shot with the ‘Bullet’

Valentina Shevchenko lands a punch on Holly Holm

Valentina Shevchenko

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Julianna Pena

Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena finally meet in a battle of two of the top Women’s Bantamweight fighters. Before the introduction of the Women’s Featherweight division the winner would have been almost guaranteed a shot at the winner of Rousey vs. Nunes, but Nunes, after demolishing Rousey, is calling for a shot at the winner of Holm vs. De Randamie.

Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko held a Muay Thai counter striking class for Holly Holm in July 2016 as she came away with a unanimous decision victory. It wasn’t exactly beautiful to the casual fan, but anyone who appreciates intelligent striking would have enjoyed Shevchenko’s performance as she led Holly Holm into her strikes for all five rounds. It was exactly the victory Shevchenko needed after losing to Amanda Nunes in March 2016. Shevchenko fought Nunes well, winning the last of three rounds, but was too far behind in the first two rounds to even threaten a decision.

Julianna Pena is one of the very few undefeated Women’s Bantamweight fighters out there, going 3-0 in the UFC after her 4-0 streak through The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 as well. She’s coming off impressive victories over Cat Zingano at UFC 200 and also Jessica Eye at UFC 192, both via decision. Pena has a deadly ground game and can score from her back or from top position as well.

The Breakdown

Firstly, can Pena go five rounds? We know Shevchenko can. This card is being hosted up in Denver where the altitude has failed many fighters, and from all reports, Pena isn’t doing anything to adapt to the altitude and laughed it off.

Secondly, Pena’s aggressive style could very well play into the hands of Shevchenko will look to stand back and counter-punch every time she enters her range. Shevchenko is extremely light on her feet and moves gracefully, compared to Pena who is often heavy on her feet.

Shevchenko is this new breed of fighters ready to take over the UFC, and this is the next step in her getting a shot to avenge her loss against Amanda Nunes.

Tip

Valentina Shevchenko to Win


 

Donald Cerrone vs. Jorge Masvidal

Donald Cerrone doesn’t like to stay idle. It’s awesome for fans of his (who isn’t a fan?) because we get to see one of the most entertaining fighters in the modern era of the sport enter the cage three or four times a year. Cerrone has been on an absolute tear lately, wiping out anyone who stands in his way. He didn’t look all that impressive in the Matt Brown through the early stages, but all it took was that one beautiful head kick to finish the fight.

Jorge Masvidal returns after the ‘toe incident’ at the TUF 24 Finale just last month. Masvidal’s opponent got his toe stuck in the cage, and when Herb Dean called a timeout to try and assist Ellenberger to escape the ‘malfunction’, legally it had to be recorded as a TKO loss for Ellenberger. Masvidal spoke out about this and believes that he isn’t getting the recognition he deserves for dominating Ellenberger through the early stages of the fight and instead people were calling for a rematch.

The Breakdown

Cerrone is one incredibly entertaining fighter, and he breaks down opponents with the help of Greg Jackson in his corner. Masvidal is technically very sound, however, fails under opponent’s pressure – especially when they move forward with punches.

Cowboy doesn’t actually come forward with strikes all that often and prefers to play a patient striking game with his opponents, which works well into Masvidal’s favour. I believe Masvidal is a true chance here to shut down the winning streak of Cowboy.

Tip

Jorge Masvidal to Win


 

Andrei Arlovski vs. Francis N’Gannou

Francis N’Gannous has finally earned his shot at a true heavyweight contender as he takes on Andrei Arlovski this weekend at UFC on Fox 23. Yes, Arlovski is well-past the best of his career, but has loads of experience he has against top-quality fighters is still there, and this will certainly be N’Gannou’s biggest test inside the octagon thus far.

N’Gannou has worked tirelessly to become a mixed martial artist and has worked away from being titled as just a boxer. This was further helped when he cranked a kimura against Anthony Hamilton last month.

The Breakdown

Francis N’Gannou’s is too athletic and too strong for Andrei Arlovski in this one. His boxing will out-score Arlovski on the feet, and I believe N’Gannou’s explosiveness will help him stay in front in every aspect of the fight.

Tip

No bet at the moment – waiting for markets to further develop


 

Jason Knight vs. Alex Caceres

Another excellent fight to round out the Main Card of UFC on Fox 23! Jason Knight has quickly become one of my favourite fighters in the UFC roster because of his relentless assault on his opponents, his desire to work aggressively from his back on the mat and an incredible display of heart combined with amazing trash talk.

Knight battles the talented Alex Caceres who will step back in to fight for the first time since losing to the man of the moment, Yair Rodriguez. I don’t read much into this loss to Yair, especially since Caceres showed glimpses of goodness and that he managed to last the five rounds with the future champion in Rodriguez.

The Breakdown

I believe Jason Knight falls into the category of ‘exciting’ and ‘fun’ rather than being renowned for any particular skill. He doesn’t seem to enter fights with a gameplan and just kind of scraps with his opponent. Yet, he seems to somehow find a way to win. I view Alex Caceres as a better version of Daniel Hooker, who Jason Knight previously defeated, and this should be an outstanding fight.

I’d welcome a Jason Knight victory because I absolutely love watching him, but I think Caceres is too smooth in this one and there’s plenty of value to be had by backing him in, as well.

Tip

Alex Caceres to Win


 

Tips Summary

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Julianna Pena
Valentina Shevchenko to Win
Sunday 29th January, 03:00 GMT
Odds: -110  –  Ladbrokes

Donald Cerrone vs. Jorge Masvidal
Jorge Masvidal to Win
Sunday 29th January, 02:30 GMT
Odds: +140  –  Bet365

Alex Caceres vs. Jason Knight
Alex Caceres to Win
Sunday 29th January, 02:00 GMT
Odds: +137  –  Skybet