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Valentina Shevchenko: Zhang Weili’s improvements ‘not gonna help her’ in potential super fight

UFC 281 Official Weigh-in Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Valentina Shevchenko has been impressed by Zhang Weili, but isn’t feeling threatened.

Since Shevchenko last defended her title in June 2022 at UFC 275 against Taila Santos, Zhang has recaptured her Strawweight crown. A dominant second round modified rear-naked choke submission win over Carla Esparza (watch highlights) has left the 115-pound titleholder pondering what’s next. While it may not be a Shevchenko champion versus champion clash at Flyweight, Zhang has expressed a desire in making that fight happen someday.

“Definitely,” Shevchenko told MMA Junkie of interest in a future Zhang fight. “It’s one of the options of what can happen.

“I saw her recent fight,” she added. “She got stronger, more tactical, but if a fight is gonna happen, it’s not gonna help her.”

Fans have currently had to wait longer than usual for a Shevchenko return. The generally active champion has taken somewhat of a little break after her split decision win over the aforementioned Santos (watch highlights) and feels a March 2023 bout would be great timing.

There has been a sudden emergence of potential title challengers at 125 pounds with names like Manon Fiorot and Alexa Grasso atop the contender list. Santos’ great effort against Shevchenko has led many to believe an instant rematch should be granted. The champion, however, happens to disagree.

“Taila, she has to prove herself that she deserves this title [shot] again,” Shevchenko told The Schmo. “Because I feel she recently started to speak too much and these kinds of girls — young girls — they have few victories, some losses, and they have too much ego and they are starting to speak about themselves like they are something. But unfortunately, no. This is the fight, these are the rules. You have to show exactly [a] beautiful fight and that you deserve [it]. But for now, I don’t see that in her. That’s why she has to work. To build her name up again to get this chance from the promotion.”

Poll

Who should Shevchenko fight next?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Manon Fiorot
    (41 votes)
  • 7%
    Alexa Grasso
    (32 votes)
  • 23%
    Taila Santos (rematch)
    (101 votes)
  • 25%
    Zhang Weili
    (110 votes)
  • 33%
    Amanda Nunes (trilogy)
    (143 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (4 votes)
431 votes total Vote Now

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