The sister of flyweight champ, Valentina, Antonina Shevchenko enters Saturday night following a submission loss to Andrea Lee back in May. Professionally, the 36-year-old is 9-3; and, in the UFC, Shevchenko is 3-3 with two finish victories and two decision losses. Casey O’Neill, more than a decade younger than her opponent and is 7-0 professionally. In the UFC, O’Neill is 2-0 with two finishes.
Shevchenko vs. O’Neill betting odds
O’Neill is slightly more than a 2:1 favorite over Shevchenko who enters as a +180 underdog.
Shevchenko vs. O’Neill breakdown
Shevchenko will forever be compared to her sister; but, she is her own fighter with her own set of skills. She is a fairly solid striker with a kickboxing style. She averages 3.8 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 2.7. Because of her style, Shevchenko prefers to fight at range or in the clinch where she can either use her mobility and range knowledge or Muay Thai grip and unload knees in the clinch. Shevchenko often tries to piece her opponent up on the end of her jab and low kick. However, she has two big gaps in her game that has translated to losses in the past: in-the-pocket brawls and her ground game. When in the pocket, Shevchenko struggles to avoid the quick, powerful, and short strikes of her opponent, likely because of her lanky frame. Her largest struggle in the octagon, though, is on the ground. Shevchenko only stops 50% of takedown attempts; and, when the fight gets to the ground, she can be controlled and finished by subpar ground fighters.
O’Neill is anything but a subpar ground fighter. She aggressively hunts takedowns, averaging 3.5 per fight, and is successful 62% of the time. Once on the ground, O’Neill has impressed, out wrestling tough ground opponents. On the feet, O’Neill has remained hyper-aggressive. Because of this aggression, she can overextend and get herself in bad positions or hit cleanly. However, she has maintained a 2x positive strike differential. Because she is so young, only 23, O’Neill’s biggest obstacle to success in the octagon is a lack of experience. An experienced counter striker with good takedown defense could pose as an interesting challenge for O’Neill’s aggressive style. That, however, hasn’t happened yet. Instead, O’Neill has steamrolled through both opponents in the UFC.
Shevchenko vs. O’Neill prediction
Unfortunately for Shevchenko, while she is a solid counter striker, she does not have the takedown defense or ground game necessary to challenge O’Neill in this fight. I truly think O’Neill could be special. She’s young, well-rounded, aggressive, powerful. She isn’t flawless but she has the tools to end this fight and end it however she wants. Look for her to shoot a takedown after exchanging on the feet for a few minutes. Then, it should be only a matter of time before the fight ends.
Prediction: O’Neill inside the distance
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.