On Saturday night at UFC 231 in Toronto, two of the best female fighters in the world will step into the cage to fight for the vacant women’s flyweight title. This will be Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s first MMA fight, but not the first time they’ve slung leather against each other.
Buried deep in Valentina’s 56-2 Muay Thai kickboxing record: three decision wins over Joanna from 2006, 2007, and 2008.
“She can say that it’s not affecting her, but yes it’s affecting her,” Shevchenko told reporters at a UFC 231 media brunch event. “We are saying sometimes that fighters can say whatever, but what they are feeling inside is totally different. And it’s affecting everything. It’s affecting everyone, for sure.”
Who knows what’s going on in Jedrzejczyk’s head, but she insists the history (and losses) are not an issue.
”I don’t care, it was a decade ago.” Joanna said (via Combate). “We are both much more talented and tough fighters. It’s a great challenge and I’m even more excited. Our muay thai fights were over a decade ago, we’re completely different fighters today. I know I am. I’m happy to be here and can’t wait for Saturday.”
If anything, Jedrzejczyk sounds excited to test her skills once again, and at a more natural weight of 125 pounds. Moving up has the added advantage of not nearly dying during the weight cut portion of the fight, but may lead to Joanna facing a much larger Shevchenko on fight night. Valentina looked crazy jacked at the open workouts and weigh-ins, just another interesting factor in an already intriguing fight.
“It’s a beautiful match up,” Jedrzejczyk continued. “Maybe the best between female strikers. I still think she’ll try to take me down, but people don’t know how good my takedown defense is until they try. They haven’t got the chance to see me under these conditions. In fact, I was happy when I saw Valentina join the UFC and we got to talk.”
“She’s my opponent and this is one of the best fights in female MMA history. It’s business, what do you expect? We’ll fight, we’ll be aggressive, but in a nice, sports, kind of way. When we leave the Octagon, we’ll just be human beings.”
Jedrzejczyk and Shevchenko co-main Saturday’s Toronto card under returning featherweight champ Max Holloway defending his belt against Brian Ortega. For complete coverage, click here.