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Two of the three Ultimate Fighting Championship’s women’s titles will be on the line at UFC 261 on Saturday at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, as Rose Namajunas challenges Weili Zhang for the strawweight crown and Jessica Andrade battles Valentina Shevchenko for the flyweight belt.
Sherdog checked in with five of the best-known female mixed martial artists in Brazil and gathered their thoughts on the two title fights.
Zhang vs. Namajunas
Cristiane Justino: “That will be a great match up. I see it 50/50. Zhang is stronger and more athletic, while Rose is more [of a] strategist and controls the distance better. It is a classic. clash of styles.”
Vanessa Porto: “I believe Rose is the favorite here. She is very calm, intelligent and technical. Namajunas will control the distance and get the title in my opinion.”
Marina Rodriguez: “I’m really interested in that fight, as I hope it will decide my future opponent. The champion is very tough, but I see Rose as a more complete fighter with excellent distance control. That will play a really important role in my vision.”
Amanda Ribas: “The champion is stronger and more explosive, while Rose is faster, taller and has a great distance control. Since both have great cardio, I believe it will be a great battle of five rounds.”
Viviane Araujo: “I think Namajunas is more intelligent and strategic. If she can control the distance, she will get the belt back.”
Shevchenko vs. Andrade
Justino: “Valentina is the favorite. Jessica hits hard, but the champion is faster and certainly will bring some strategy to control the distance and avoid Jessica’s hands and dangerous throws. Jessica has a chance to surprise. I’m very excited to see that one.”
Porto: “The key point for Jessica will be to control her natural aggressiveness and put on some strategy to avoid Shevchenko’s speed and distance control. She needs to be able to get in and place her killer throws and ground-and-pound. The champion is the favorite, but if there is a girl that can take her from the comfort zone in that weight division, it is ‘Bate Estaca.’”
Rodriguez: “Valentina is a complete fighter, but any fighter who brings one-punch knockout power to the game, like Jessica, always can surprise—as we could see in her flyweight debut against [Katlyn] Chookagian. Jessica is even stronger and more dangerous in that division.”
Ribas: “The champion is the favorite, but Jennifer Maia showed the way. If Jessica can take Valentina down and impose her ground-and-pound game, she may surprise.”
Araujo: “Since I debuted in that division, I’ve studied Valentina’s game a lot. The key point here for Jessica is not only about getting in but how to get out without being hit. If Jessica can take the champion down in the first rounds, she can get her frustrated and, by using that psychological aspect, win the fight.”
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