- Amanda Nunes has a career win-loss record of 14-4 but is undefeated in her past five fights and has been in blistering form since she beat Shevchenko via a unanimous points decision in March 2016. She became bantamweight champion after forcing Miesha Tate to submit in round one, and then successfully defended her belt in December when she knocked out returning superstar Ronda Rousey.
- Valentina Shevchenko bounced back from her loss to Nunes with a hard-fought points victory over Holly Holm in July, before claiming the biggest victory of her career against Julianna Pena in January. Shevchenko survived a first-round armbar attempt from the American before trapping her opponent on the mat in the next round to take her record to 14 wins and two losses.
Amanda Nunes added some fuel to the fire when she entered the Octagon after Valentina Shevchenko’s win over Julianna Pena and promptly declared ‘the next time I will finish you’. It certainly appears to be true that Nunes has gone to another level since the pair contested a very close fight just over a year ago, but Shevchenko has also improved herself and warned the champion that her words will come back to haunt her.
Shevchenko’s clash with Pena showed that she is far more than just a striker, as she also outgrappled her opponent on the floor. She made a slow start in the previous fight against Nunes and got stronger as it progressed, and really seems to have got under the champion’s skin ahead of the rematch. The danger for Shevchenko is that it is not easy to change her counterpunching style and it is likely that Nunes will still dictate the tempo of the fight in the first few rounds. Nunes has the ferocious power to end the fight quickly and odds of 5/1 on a first-round victory for the champion could be worth taking.
However, Nunes does lack stamina and, if Shevchenko can demonstrate the same defensive skills that she showed against Pena and withstand the early onslaught, she may well take charge later on as she did last March. Shevchenko may not be able to finish off Nunes, but as long as she is disciplined and a tad more proactive than last time out, anyone backing a points victory at 7/2 could have reason to cheer.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Valentina Shevchenko to win on points - 7/2
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.