‘King’ Casey O’Neill returns this weekend for her third octagon outing in a little over eight months. Having impressed with two finish victories in as many fights, the Scottish born, Australian, fighting out of the US takes on the toughest test of her career in Antonina Shevchenko.
Casey O’Neill’s UFC Rise
Casey O’Neill only debuted for the UFC in February of this year, yet she’s already scheduled to make her third walk to the octagon on Saturday night. Undefeated at 5-0, ‘King’ debuted against the tough, Shana Dobson. The Scot dominated the fight wherever it went, managing to secure the second-round victory. Out-landing her opponent 132-27 on overall strikes, she gave the referee no choice but to stop the bout in the second round. She landed 4 of 6 takedowns and amassed 7:26 control time, despite the bout only lasting 8:41.
In her second UFC outing, she faced off against BJJ black belt, Lara Procopio. Entering into the bout, Procopio was coming off a win over Molly McCann and looked to be getting back into form having had a prolonged period out of the octagon. With that being said, she then ran into Casey O’Neill. Once again, O’Neill out-landed her opponent, this time 176-76, as well as gaining over five minutes of control time. She did face some adversary in this one, Procopio got her down and held her there. She was also landed on fairly easily, allowing Procopio to gain a little confidence. With that being said, the finishing sequence saw Casey O’Neill lock-up a standing rear-naked choke and put her opponent to sleep.
Now 2-0 in the UFC with two finishes, she looked to get the biggest scalp of her career when she faces Antonina Shevchenko.
Antonina Shevchenko Looks to Bounce Back
Last time out, Antonina Shevchenko fought valiantly but ultimately succumbed to the submission game of the dangerous, Andrea Lee. Shevchenko struggled in the wrestling realm of the bout, being taken down three times by Lee and largely controlled. She was outstruck on the feet, a rare occurrence for a Shevchenko sister and lost the fight in the second round via submission after sustained pressure from Lee.
Prior to that, she impressed against Ariane Lipski, dominating her in the wrestling game, leading to a ground and pound finish in the second round. She achieved 7:39 control time, showing that she can clearly wrestle. With that being said, she was outclassed the fight before in the wrestling game by Katlyn Chookagian. Chookagian took her down three times, landed 200 strikes and had an overall control time of 10:36. Shevchenko’s wrestling game is extremely up and down, having been dominated twice, but also handling Lipski well in that realm.
Will Shevchenko have improved her ground game in order to deal with O’Neill or will she still get taken down at will, adding to her disappointing 50% takedown defence? That’s the big question in this one.
How the fight will go
There are ultimately two ways that this one will go. Either Casey O’Neill will put enough hands on Shevchenko in order to close the distance, get the clinch and get it to the floor. She averages 3.47 takedowns per 15, with a 62% accuracy. Once on the ground, she’ll work the finish, not being afraid to ground and pound her opponent in order to create openings.
If Shevchenko has worked effectively on her takedown defence and her bottom game should it get down there, she could certainly have success on the feet. She has superior stand-up, landing an average of 3.87 significant strikes per minute. O’Neill hasn’t looked all that comfortable on her feet thus far in her career, so it’s certainly an area that Shevchenko could utilise. She must keep it long, teep kicks and jabs to keep O’Neill at range. If the fight gets to the clinch, make O’Neill pay with elbows and knees and try and deter her from going there again.
Pick – O’Neill via R3 submission
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