Liz Carmouche was spellbound, held captive by the overwhelming speed and precision with which she was confronted. Plenty of others have shared her fate.
Valentina Shevchenko played chess to another would-be successor’s checkers and retained her undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight title with a unanimous decision over Carmouche in the UFC Fight Night 156 main event on Saturday at Antel Arena in Montevideo, Uruguay. All three judges scored it 50-45 for Shevchenko, as she not only maintained her stranglehold on the 125-pound weight class but avenged a September 2010 defeat to the “Girl-Rilla.”
Carmouche connected with nothing of consequence across 25 minutes, a fact to which preliminary FightMetric data can attest. She did not land more than seven significant strikes in any one round and whiffed on all four of her takedown attempts. Shevchenko toyed with the Team Hurricane Awesome standout at times, leaping in and out with punches and even obliging her with a few ground exchanges. Nothing Carmouche tried worked.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian: If you were to put together a Mount Rushmore for current UFC champions based on divisional dominance, Shevchenko might be on it. The 31-year-old Kyrgyzstan native has breezed through all four of her opponents since she returned to the fledgling flyweight class in 2018, pairing convincing decisions over Carmouche and Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a rear-naked choke submission of Priscila Cachoeira and a sensational head kick knockout of Jessica Eye. There does not appear to be a legitimate threat to her reign on the horizon, though Chookagian would be next in terms of pecking order. The Renzo Gracie protégé has won four of her past five bouts and last competed at UFC 238, where she was awarded a unanimous decision over Joanne Calderwood on June 8.
Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal: Luque keeps plugging away at 170 pounds. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 21 graduate put enough damage on Mike Perry in the co-headliner to warrant a split decision, as he extended his career-best winning streak to six fights. All three judges struck 29-28 scorecards, two of them siding with Luque. The often-overlooked Brazilian crushed Perry’s nose with a knee strike and opened multiple facial lacerations with various other weapons. Luque has quietly compiled a 10-2 record since he linked arms with the UFC a little more than four years ago. Neal last fought at UFC 240 on July 27, when he put away Niko Price with second-round punches and remained unbeaten in four starts inside the Octagon.
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Chris Weidman-Dominick Reyes winner: Oezdemir breathed some much-needed life into his career, as he leveled Ilir Latifi with punches in the second round of their light heavyweight showcase. Met with a pair of devastating left hooks, Latifi kissed the canvas 4:31 into Round 2. The win -- Oezdemir’s first since he waylaid Jimi Manuwa in 42 seconds on July 29, 2017 -- snapped a three-fight losing streak for the Swiss standout and kept him afloat in the tumultuous 205-pound weight class. Weidman on Oct. 18 will make his divisional debut opposite Reyes in the UFC on ESPN 6 headliner.
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Krzysztof Jotko: Vieira was successful in his first UFC appearance, as the multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and 2015 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist submitted Oskar Piechota with an arm-triangle choke in the second round of their middleweight feature. Piechota raised the white flag 4:26 into Round 2. The 29-year-old Vieira, now 6-0 as a professional, has finished all six of his opponents, five of them by submission. Jotko last appeared at UFC 240 in July, when the American Top Team rep eked out a split decision over Marc-Andre Barriault.
Enrique Barzola vs. Alex Caceres: The resilient Barzola rebounded from a March 30 decision defeat to Kevin Aguilar, as he overcame Bobby Moffett in a narrow split decision at 145 pounds. “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” Season 2 winner was outstruck by Moffett in the second and third rounds, albeit by slim margins, his victory perhaps owed to the three takedowns he recorded -- one in each frame. Barzola, 30, has settled into his role as an entertaining middle-tier featherweight and figures to catch another assignment before the Ultimate Fighting Championship turns the page to 2020. Caceres on July 20 evened his promotional record at 10-10 with a unanimous decision over Steven Peterson at UFC on ESPN 4.