Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko fears no one.
“The Bullet” has been just about as perfect as any fighter can hope to be inside the Octagon, but her run in UFC didn’t come without some losses during her time at Bantamweight. Having only lost thrice in 25 career bouts, Shevchenko (22-3) has since avenged one of those setbacks to the future Bellator champion, Liz Carmouche, while she has yet to avenge the other two that both came against Amanda Nunes.
Etching her name into the history books at the expense of Shevchenko, Nunes most recently dropped one of her two UFC crowns when facing Julianna Pena at UFC 269 in Dec. 2021. “The Venezuelan Vixen” managed to pull off the stunning upset with a second-round rear-naked choke submission (watch highlights) and will now rematch “The Lioness” sometime this summer after The Ultimate Fighter 30.
As Shevchenko’s dominant Flyweight run has elongated with each fight, it’s led to the community speculating when we’ll see her try to once again claim Bantamweight gold in what was expected to be a Nunes trilogy affair. Instead, Pena has shaken things up for what could also be a rematch for Shevchenko, who initially bested Pena in Jan. 2017.
“I think why not, because years ago we fought with Julianna, and I submitted her with an armbar in the second round,” Shevchenko said when asked about potentially facing Pena instead of Nunes, during Tuesday’s (May 10, 2022) UFC 275 virtual press conference (h/t South China Morning Post).
“I think it will be an exciting fight for everyone, where she would go down and try to challenge in Flyweight or whatever,” she continued. “Definitely, Julianna has all the chances to win [her Nunes rematch], but if Amanda is gonna be in the same fight shape as when she fought me, I think she will get back her belt, and we are gonna still come back for this third fight. Either way, I don’t care really. I can fight both of them at the same time, like whatever. It’s a mental game for all fighters. We know exactly Amanda doesn’t have this mental game very strong in her previous fight. We can see that everyone can break their mental game, but I have a very strong mental game.”
Before Shevchenko can continue to ponder the idea of becoming a dual-division titlist or defending against a fellow champion, she’ll seek her seventh consecutive title defense when facing Brazil’s Taila Santos at UFC 275 on June 11 in Singapore.
“I don’t need people to believe in me,” Santos said during the presser. “The only person that needs to believe I can dethrone Valentina is myself. I believe it’s my moment. I believe with the hard work, the journey I’ve had, I’m due for this. I believe my time has come and you should start believing that I can be the one [to beat Shevchenko].”
Santos (19-1) currently rides a four-fight winning streak and last defeated Joanne Wood via first-round rear-naked choke in Nov. 2021 (watch highlights).
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