Valentina Shevchenko earned the biggest win of her mixed martial arts (MMA) career in the main event at UFC on FOX 20 earlier tonight (Sat. July 23, 2016) and showed why she is considered one of the best pure strikers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweight division.
Shevchenko (23-5) utilized accurate counter striking and a pair of timely takedowns to defeat Holly Holm (10-2) by unanimous decision inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
All three judges scored the bout 49-49 for the former kickboxing and muay thai champion.
"I want a rematch with Amanda Nunes for the title belt!," Shevchenko told Joe Rogan after the fight.
In the opening round, Shevchenko landed a couple of right hands, and then Holm came in with a left hook, which dropped the Kyrgyzstan native to the canvas. However, Shevchenko immediately popped back up and was able to recover. Later on in the round, "The Bullet," secured a body lock and landed a takedown, but could not keep Holm down. Holm then pressed Shevchenko into the fence, but didn't land any significant strikes.
In the second, Shevchenko, who is the No.7-ranked UFC women's bantamweight, clinched up with Holm, but Holm avoided getting pressed against the fence, reversed position and circled out. Holm landed a step-in side kick later on in the round and Shevchenko tagged the former champion with a several solid punches and leg kicks. Holm also had success a few times with her oblique kick, which has become a staple of all Greg Jackson fighters.
In the third, Shevchenko had success early with counter right hands, low kicks and then was able to catch a kick and take Holm to the canvas. "The Preacher's Daughter" made it back up to her feet, but was taken down soon after. This time Shevchenko was able to keep Holm down and stayed in her half guard. She didn't mount a ton of offense, but Shevchenko did land a few punches and elbows and clearly won the round. During the round an accidental headbutt opened up a cut on Holm's face.
Shevchenko continued to have success with her striking in the fourth and landed several nice counters on Holm as well as low leg kicks and creative combinations. Her best was a superman punch into an inside low kick. Holm, the No.2-ranked UFC women's bantamweight began to show some swelling on her left eye.
In the fifth, Shevchenko continued to have success with her counter right hand as she avoided the incoming attacks of Holm and also landed several nice jabs. Holm picked up the pace late in the round, but when she was aggressive, Shevchenko continued to tag her with strikes.
A huge win for Shevchenko, who improves to 2-1 in the UFC and places herself in the title conversation. Shevchenko dropped a unanimous decision to current champion Amanda Nunes back at UFC 196 and a rematch is certainly a possibility.
Tough loss for Holm, who lost the title in her last bout at UFC 196 to Miesha Tate, and has now dropped two straight since shocking the MMA world by knocking out Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 last November to win the title. She is now 3-2 in UFC.