Amanda Nunes will get her chance for redemption on Sept. 9 when she defends her UFC women’s bantamweight title opposite Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
After pulling out last second of her scheduled bout with “Bullet” at UFC 213 back in July, the Brazilian champion has a lot to prove heading into next weekend. Not only does Nunes have to make a healthy weight cut for her 135-pound championship defense, but she has to dispel the rumors that she dodged Shevchenko the last time around considering “Lioness” was cleared to fight but opted to sit out with an illness.
“I want to say something. This is the fight that I want,” Nunes said during Thursday’s (Aug. 31, 2017) UFC 215 media conference call. “I don’t have anybody in this division that I don’t want to fight, [but] I told (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby: ‘It has to be Valentina. You have to reschedule this fight, I want to fight Valentina. I don’t want you to reschedule (the fight) with anybody else in this division. Valentina is the one who deserves this match. Valentina is the No. 1 contender in this division, and this is the fight that I want. Please reschedule this fight and let’s make this happen.’
“And this is the thing, I don’t know if people think I was scared or something like that — no, I’m the one who wanted this fight. I’m the one asking for Sean Shelby to reschedule the fight right away. ... I never was going to run away. I’m a champion, I have to defend this belt. Whatever steps in the cage against me, I will fight, because I have the belt, I’m No. 1 on the planet, and I want to keep staying here. I have to keep proving it, and for that, I have to prove it against somebody. And Valentina is the one, the one that I wanted to fight next. Nobody else in this division.”
As you could have imagined, Nunes received a heavy dose of backlash after withdrawing from UFC 213’s main event bout. Shevchenko, who lost to Nunes back at UFC 196, was considerably upset and voiced her opinions publicly, while UFC president Dana White guaranteed that Nunes would never headline another UFC event again.
“I feel they’re punishing me, for sure ... but at the end of the day, I want to fight,” Nunes said regarding UFC 215’s co-main event billing. “I want to fight. It doesn’t matter. I think the main event for this fight is great. I’m a big fan of Demetrious and I think they made the right decision to put them to be the main event, and I love to be the co-main event. The only thing that I want is to step in that cage and get my work done.”
If Nunes is able to disrupt Shevchenko’s divisional rise and put a stop to her in Edmonton then all will be forgotten. But until the Brazilian striker gets past her budding rival, she’ll remain in the UFC doghouse.
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