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UFC on FOX 23: Julianna Pena, ‘Fighter To Watch’ tonight in Denver

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Two of the more talented bantamweight fighters in women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) today will collide later tonight (Sat., Jan. 28, 2017) at UFC on FOX 23 live on FOX from inside Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, as Russian striker Valentina Shevchenko meets former TUF winner Julianna Pena in a highly-anticipated main event bout. Shevchenko is coming off a dominant victory over former 135-pound champion Holly Holm back at UFC on FOX 20, while Pena has put together a 4-0 record since joining the promotion back in 2013. The winner of UFC on FOX 23’s headliner will get the opportunity to challenge current women’s bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes sometime this year.

While “Bullet” has looked great of late and actually took Nunes to a decision (albeit a loss) just under one year ago, Pena is the fighter that most fans will be paying attention to. Shevchenko has looked great on her feet since making her Octagon debut 13 months ago, but “The Venezuelan Vixen” is someone Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans have seen grow over the past few years. They followed her journey as a young and hungry fighter on The Ultimate Fighter, and will see her career efforts culminate with tonight’s main event showing.

Pena, 27, is undoubtedly one of the most skilled and athletically-gifted fighters in the women’s bantamweight division. A freak accident in training ultimately left her on the sidelines for all of 2014, but Pena has come back with vengeance and looks the part of future champion with just 10 professional fights under her belt. However, despite her ground-and-pound efforts opposite all four of her UFC opponents (Cat Zingano, Jessica Eye, Milana Dudieva, Jessica Rakoczy), Pena must show an evolution in her striking in order for fight fans to believe she can defeat a champion like “Lioness.”

Luckily for Pena, Shevchenko is one of the best strikers in the weigh class, if not the most technical. She will test Pena in every facet of standup and force her to implement new techniques that we probably haven’t seen before. That’s a huge reason why Pena will be watched closely later this evening at UFC on FOX 23. It’s the biggest fight of her career and her first main event slot under UFC rule. That sort of opportunity comes with a lot of pressure, but the self-proclaimed future title threat is ready to take her skills to another level and cement her divisional status in 2017.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 23 fight card, starting with the UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.

Source:: mma mania