Jessica Andrade acknowledges that she’s facing one of the best fighters in the world, but says she’ll still be able to put pressure on the champion when she challenges Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC women’s flyweight title on Saturday at UFC 261.

Shevchenko Andrade odds UFC 261
Valentina Shevchenko (pictured) will make her fifth flyweight title defense against Jessica Andrade at UFC 261. (Image: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

Shevchenko will make her fifth championship defense since winning the title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2018.

Andrade says takedowns key vs. Shevchenko

She last fought in November, winning a unanimous decision over Jennifer Maia to again retain her title. Shevchenko (20-3) has lost only twice while in the UFC: both times to two-division champion Amanda Nunes, and both times by decision.

Despite those losses, Andrade says that it’s Shevchenko who is the top fighter in the UFC, not Nunes.

“Valentina is the best in the UFC,” Shevchenko told MMA Fighting. “Even though Amanda has two belts, Valentina fights all the time and always puts on great fights and the same pace from start to finish. Amanda doesn’t fight that often. She owns two belts but doesn’t fight all the time, so I think Valentina has more experience in the Octagon.”

Shevchenko vs. Andrade Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Valentina Shevchenko: -435 Jessica Andrade: +325
Method of Victory
Shevchenko by KO/TKO/DQ: +195 Andrade by KO/TKO/DQ: +600
Shevchenko by Submission: +550 Andrade by Submission: +1200
Shevchenko by Decision: +138 Andrade by Decision: +900
Draw: +6600

Andrade (21-8) once held the women’s strawweight title before dropping it to Zhang Weili in 2019. That was the first of two straight losses for Andrade before she made the move to flyweight. A win over Katlyn Chookagian in her debut in the weight class put her in position to challenge Shevchenko.

Styles make fights

While Shevchenko comes in as a -435 favorite over Andrade (+325) according to DraftKings Sportsbook, the challenger thinks she has a path to victory.

“If you score a good takedown and stabilize it on the floor, you can’t go wrong. We’re giving that a lot of focus,” Andrade told Globo Esporte. “I believe that’s her weakness, the grappling. I keep telling people how strong I am and I’m aware of my potential when I hold people against the fence. I know what I can do, the different ways I can take someone down. I have lots of different takedowns.”

On the other hand, Shevchenko says she likes the stylistic matchup against Andrade.

“I like that type of opponent when they are running into you like, I am here,” Shevchenko told MMA Fighting. “I really like this style of challenger. It gets me very excited. Because I have a more clear target. I don’t have to look for a clean spot, it’s just running towards me.”

Those two statements should sum up what the fight will look like. Andrade will look to control the fight with wrestling, while Shevchenko will have a clear advantage in the striking game. The biggest problem for Andrade is the fact that Shevchenko has the strength to compete with her even in the clinch or on the mat.

DraftKings sees Shevchenko as most likely to win by decision (+138) or stoppage (+195), with Andrade listed at +600 to get a knockout or TKO.