The co-main event of UFC 266 is a clash between women’s flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko and No. 3-ranked contender Lauren Murphy, and if “Bullet” wins, talks of her fighting consensus female GOAT Amanda Nunes will once again fire back up.
Shevchenko has a professional MMA record of 21-3, with seven wins coming way by KO/TKO, seven by submission and seven by decision. She is currently riding a seven-fight win streak that includes five defenses of her 125-pound belt. Overall, Bullet is 10-2 in the UFC.
And her only two losses have come by the hands of Nunes.
Shevchenko and “The Lioness” fought at bantamweight both times, squaring off at UFC 196 in March 2016 and then again in September 2017 at UFC 215. Both fights were close affairs, but Nunes edged the scorecards each time, winning a unanimous decision in 2016 and split decision in 2017.
Although their fight at UFC 196 was close, the majority of fans scored the fight for Nunes. But many view Bullet’s loss to Nunes at UFC 215 as a robbery, scoring the fight for Shevchenko. And now being four years removed from the controversial decision, a contest between Bullet and The Lioness is as relevant as ever.
Nunes and Shevchenko are highly dominant champions who are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on the women’s pound-for-pound rankings, respectively. Nunes is the reigning featherweight and bantamweight champion, and has a professional MMA record of 21-4. As mentioned, The Lioness is viewed by the MMA community as the greatest female fighter of all time, holding several wins over the whos’ who of women’s fighting, including ex-featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, and former bantamweight champions Ronda Rousey, Meisha Tate and Holly Holm.
Shevchenko has a stacked list of wins as well, beating the likes of ex-strawweight champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Andrade, as well as Holm.
The two fighters have looked nearly unbeatable the last few years and many believe that the best chance of either Nunes or Shevchenko losing is by getting beaten by the other combatant.
And should Bullet take out Murphy, someone she shouldn’t overlook, at UFC 266 on September 25, 2021, MMA fans will likely be shouting from the rooftops about the trilogy fight.
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When the Time Comes, Shevchenko Will Be ‘Here’ for a Trilogy Fight With Nunes
During a recent interview with TMZ, Shevchenko confirmed her interest in a third fight with Nunes.
“I think if destiny puts this fight in front of us, most yes we’re going to do it,” Shevchenko said. “I’m kind of focused very much on my flyweight division and I just want to be better… like fight and fight.
“And when it’s going to happen, I’m here.”
Shevchenko Will Face a Resilient Fighter In Front of Her at UFC 266
But before any of the talks about the Nunes trilogy can truly reignite, Bullet has to get past Murphy at UFC 266. “Lucky” is on a five-fight win streak, defeating the likes of Joanne Calderwood and Roxanne Modafferi during the stretch.
But although she is on an impressive run, Murphy will enter the fight with Shevchenko as a massive underdog. At the time of this writing, DraftKings has Murphy as a +850 underdog and Shevchenko as a -1500 favorite.
Lucky has a professional MMA record 15-4 with eight wins coming via KO/TKO and one by submission.
Nunes Has Business to Attend to at UFC 269, Defending Her Bantamweight Title Against Julianna Pena
The Lioness has an opponent in her crosshairs as well. Nunes will look to make her sixth 135-pound title defense when she fights Julianna Pena during UFC 269 on December 11, 2021. The two were supposed to meet in July 2021, however the two-division champion tested positive for COVID-19 and the fight was postponed.
“The Venezuelan Vixen” will enter the Octagon riding the momentum of her third-round rear-naked choke victory over Sara McMann at UFC 257 in January 2021. She is 2-2 in her last four bouts, dropping submission losses to Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie and defeating Nicco Montano via unanimous decision.
She has a professional MMA record of 10-4 with three wins coming by way of KO/TKO, four by submission and three by decision.
For Nunes, this will be her first bantamweight championship defense since beating de Randamie in December 2019. The Lioness competed at featherweight in her last two outings, holding onto her 145-pound belt by besting Felicia Spencer by unanimous decision and Megan Anderson via first-round submission.
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UFC 266 Features 2-Title Fights, Return of 2 Fighting Legends
The UFC 266 PPV main card is stacked with two title fights, as well as a rematch 17 years in the making between two MMA legends.
In the main event, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will put his belt on the line against No. 2-ranked contender Brian Ortega. The two are recently coming off of the UFC’s staple television series “The Ultimate Fighter” as coaches.
Shevchenko versus Murphy will play out during the co-main event of the night.
And in the featured bout, former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon to fight ex-UFC 170-pound champion Robbie Lawler. Diaz, who hasn’t fought since January 2015, and “Ruthless” originally fought in 2004 and Diaz won the UFC fight by second-round KO.
Take a look at the full UFC 266 fight card below:
Main Card (ESPN+ PPV)
Featherweight Championship Bout: Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega
Women’s Flyweight Championship Bout: Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Lauren Murphy
Welterweight Bout: Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz
Heavyweight Bout: Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Preliminary Card (ESPN and ESPN+)
Bantamweight Bout: Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Lightweight Bout: Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Heavyweight Bout: Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos
Bantamweight Bout: Ricky Simon vs. Timur Valiev
Lightweight Bout: Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner
Early Preliminary Card (ESPN, ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass)
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
Middleweight Bout: Karl Roberson vs. Nick Maximov
Welterweight Bout: Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano Jr.