Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy Odds, UFC 266 Pick & Prediction: How To Back Dominant Champion (Saturday, Sept. 25)
Alexandre Schneider /Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Valentina Shevchenko.
- Valentina Shevchenko will make her sixth title defense against Lauren Murphy in the co-main event of UFC 266.
- Shevchenko is a huge favorite in the fight but Sean Zerillo sees a more valuable prop worth betting on the champ.
- Read more of his fight analysis below.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy Odds
The No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound woman in the UFC and current women’s flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, will make her sixth consecutive title defense against the No. 3-ranked woman in the flyweight division, Lauren Murphy, in the co-main event of Saturday’s UFC 266 card.
Shevchenko’s current streak of five consecutive title defenses is tied for the longest among active champions with Amanda Nunes (also the only woman to defeat Shevchenko in the UFC). Murphy enters this matchup on a five-fight win streak that dates back to 2019, but is checkered with two split-decision wins over that span.
Below I preview the betting odds and break down the matchup for the UFC 266 co-main event. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can also check out my projections for the entire slate.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||16:34||14:07|
|Weight (pounds)||125 lbs.||125 lbs.|
|Date of birth||3/7/88||7/27/83|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.02||3.95|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||1.99||4.25|
|Take Down Avg||2.64||1.16|
Shevchenko has terrorized the UFC’s flyweight division for years, and she has never lost at 125 pounds in her career.
All three defeats for “Bullet” have come when fighting at bantamweight — twice by decision against Nunes and a stoppage loss against Liz Carmouche, on the regional scene, in her 135-pound debut.
Shevchenko is more technical than every fighter she faces — in all aspects of MMA — but the size discrepancy (3-inch height and reach disadvantage) against Nunes proved to be her downfall.
She holds significant statistical advantages against Murphy: +1.02 to -0.3 strike differential; +12% strike efficiency; and 77% takedown defense to combat Murphy’s 34% takedown accuracy (1.16 per 15 minutes for the challenger, and her southpaw attack presents some unique challenges.
Murphy will look to apply pressure and dirty this fight up — by bullying her way into the clinch or potentially finding a way to get Shevchenko to her back — but a few minutes of control time seems like Murphy’s limited upside in this fight.
Shevchenko dropped a round to Jennifer Maia (spent 4:33 of control in Round 2 once she was taken to the mat), and still has some concerns in terms of defensive wrestling; however, her judo black belt was on full display in her recent domination of Jessica Andrade — securing all seven takedown attempts (5:11 of control time) en route to a ground and pound finish from the crucifix position.
The pace and outcome of this fight is seemingly more dependent upon the challenger than the champion, however. Shevchenko is a patient counter-striker who will punish opponents for rushing in, but she has coasted to relatively low-volume decision victories in the past when her opponents commit to staying on the outside.
If Murphy wants to win this fight — and the betting market implies that she has less than a 10% chance of doing so — she needs to rush forward and hope to catch Shevchenko with a big overhand. That said, an aggressive strategy would leave her open to some big counter hooks or spinning kicks from the champion, which could end this fight in a hurry.
Murphy is durable — and has never been finished in her career — but a five-round bout with one of the most brilliant technicians on the planet is a serious step up in competition relative to her previous slate of opponents.
Shevchenko vs. Murphy Pick
I projected Shevchenko as a -1665 favorite in this fight, and I have the bout ending inside of the distance 79% of the time (-367 implied).
While I show slight value on Shevchenko’s KO/TKO prop (projected -157), I would prefer to lay the juice on her odds to win inside the distance (projected -307) at a much steeper price since she could easily catch Murphy in a submission while defending a takedown attempt or after a takedown of her own from the clinch.
That said, given Shevchenko’s patient style, and her tendency to win by decision when her opponents fail to press the action, I’m going to keep my wager relatively small on this fight.
You can bet this prop small up to -250.
The Pick: Valentina Shevchenko wins Inside the Distance (-225, 0.25u)