UFC Uruguay wasn’t exactly the strongest event on paper, but at least it had a title fight at the top with Valentina Shevchenko defending her women’s flyweight title against Liz Carmouche. Unfortunately, the two laid a pretty big egg in Montevideo for the 9000+ in attendance, endlessly circling and pawing at each other en route to a largely uneventful five round decision (watch the ‘highlights’ here).
Shevchenko won the bout 50-45 on all three judges’ scorecards, but the performance isn’t likely to win her many fans. According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Shevchenko and Carmouche landed a combined 60 significant strikes across 25 minutes, the third fewest in modern UFC history for a title decision. So objectively speaking, it was not an action packed battle.
”Bullet” is still more than pleased with her performance, and hopes people will look past the stats and see the precision and timing in the shots she did throw.
“They still have a fresh memory about the [Jessica Eye] knockout two months ago,” Shevchenko said at the post fight press conference. “They wanted to see the knockout but as I said inside the Octagon, sometimes you do the knockout, sometimes you don’t. It’s not the way to be upset or whatever. I think if all fans, people will start to watch more carefully the fight, they will see very beautiful technique and timing and speed and this is all about martial arts. Not only about crazy exchanges, you can be hit or you can lose much more because as I said, you have the belt or you don’t.”
This was the UFC’s first visit to Uruguay and the crowd was a bit of a cipher through the night, often sitting silently through wars like Perry vs. Luque and cheering only occasionally. But during the main event’s title fight they let their displeasure be known with shrill whistles of disdain.
“It’s affecting but at the same time you cannot listen too much,” Shevchenko said when asked about the crowd reaction. “Because fighting opponent, for example like Liz, if you just go with a lot of emotion, she will catch you and put you down. You cannot do it. You have to be very smart fighter. Of course it’s affecting but at the same time what’s going to be better make fans feel good and lose your belt? Is it better?”
To be fair, it’s been a while since Shevchenko has had a fight anyone could qualify as boring. The last time was her second fight against Amanda Nunes that ended in a split decision loss for Valentina. That was another calculated affair where “Bullet” tried to counter Nunes just enough to take the belt off her, and it almost worked.
With so much at stake with every win and loss, can you really blame her for executing this game plan from time to time? Maybe not, but we’ll still complain a little bit whenever we have to sit through one of these glacial fights, ‘beautiful technique and timing’ aside.