Valentina Shevchenko's flyweight debut set for UFC Fight Night 125

Valentina Shevchenko’s venture into the women’s flyweight division is set to get underway.

The UFC on Tuesday announced that Shevchenko, a former bantemweight title contender, will meet promotional newcomer Priscila Cachoeira at UFC Fight Night 125, which takes place Feb. 3 at Manguerinho Gymnasium in Belem, Brazil, and airs on FS1.

Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) makes the transition following a controversial decision loss to 135-pound champion Amanda Nunes in September at UFC 215. Shevchenko was disappointed with the judges’ decision and initially said she wanted a third fight with Nunes. Just days later, following the UFC’s announcement of a 125-pound women’s division, Shevchenko changed her tune, announcing her intention to join the new weight class.

Expectations at flyweight are high for Shevchenko, whose only two losses in the UFC have come against Nunes.

In Cachoeira (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Shevchenko welcomes an undefeated fight with four wins in 2017. Cachoeira has finished four of her fights by either knockout or TKO, with the other wins coming by decision.

Earlier this month, the UFC crowned its inaugural women’s flyweight champion when Nicco Montano defeated Roxanne Modafferi at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale to win the “TUF” tournament. Montano recently said she would have surgery to repair a broken bone in her foot, leaving her out of action until further notice.

With the addition to the card, UFC Fight Night 125 now includes:

  • Priscila Cachoeira vs. Valentina Shevchenko
  • Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Morales
  • Luis Henrique vs. Timothy Johnson
  • Thiago “Marreta” Santos vs. Anthony Smith

For more on UFC Fight Night 125, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Valentina Shevchenko's idea for Paige VanZant: The 2 of them in UFC flyweight title-eliminator

Paige VanZant raised eyebrows last week – during UFC 217, mind you – when she tweeted that her first fight in the women’s flyweight division would be against the winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 26.”

Which, in theory, that would mean VanZant claimed she was granted an immediate title shot, since “TUF 26” is crowning the inaugural 125-pound women’s champion, which the UFC denied.

Collectively, the MMA community’s reaction was probably something along the lines of this Nicolas Cage GIF:

via GIPHY

Because, c’mon, VanZant (7-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) hasn’t exactly performed at a championship level of late. She hasn’t fought since December of last year – when she was choked out by Michelle Waterson – and is 1-2 in her last three fights. An immediate title shot in a new division? It doesn’t seem right.

But clearly VanZant sees opportunity with the creation of the flyweight divison. And where VanZant sees opportunity so does Valentina Shevchenko.

Following her bantamweight title loss to Amanda Nunes in a narrow headliner at UFC 215, Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) announced her intention to drop to flyweight. And on Thursday night, “Bullet” had an idea that she shared on Twitter:

Now there’s an idea.

Given their credentials, Shevchenko clearly would deserve an immediate title shot before VanZant does. But seeing as how Shevchenko isn’t even asking for it and instead would rather earn it in a title eliminator against VanZant, what’s the holdup?

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Valentina Shevchenko changes tune, targets drop to UFC women's flyweight division

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From the second she lost to UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 215, Valentina Shevchenko was asking for a rematch.

Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) blasted the judges who handed her a split-decision loss and even contemplated filing an appeal in lieu of a third fight with the Brazilian.

But after some time to simmer down, she appears to have had a change of heart. Rather than push for another shot at Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), she’s targeting the newly opened flyweight class as her next conquest.

“Now I’m thinking to move to 125 (pounds), and I think more probably my next fight it will be in this division,” Shevchenko told Submission Radio on Thursday. “Because 125 is like much closer weight for me. It’s my real weight category, and even at 135 I feel comfortable, and I feel like 125 I will be able to use all my techniques and all my skills because I will fight with the same-sized opponents as me.”

The UFC formally opened the women’s 125-pound division earlier this year with “The Ultimate Fighter 26,” which debuted this past month and features 16 flyweight female fighters vying for the inaugural title belt.

Shevchenko had little incentive to move with 135-pound gold within her grasp. But now that she’s fallen short and dropped two fights to Nunes, she sees it as a more logical move than trying to get an immediate rematch or appeal the fight.

“I want to win my belt in a fair battle and to receive the belt from the fight, not only from legal situation or fighting like appeal or something like that,” she said. “And I know it will come; I will have my time. And will do everything great next time. So, I prefer to be the champion in the fight, not on the paper.”

The move to 125 pounds will be very familiar for the Russian. While competing in muay Thai, she fought as a flyweight and won several championships. One of her victims in the ring was none other than women’s strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

“Just a little bit of cutting, and it will be everything perfect,” Shevchenko said. “Because, in my Muay Thai fights, I was fighting every time at 125. The last year I was moving a little bit up in weight class, but it was 130. So I feel very comfortable at 125.

“And even at 125, we can have like opponents (that are) very tall, but of course it will be the same physical conditions – the same head, the same size arms and everything, the same like mine.”

Shevchenko hasn’t totally let go of a possible third fight with Nunes. She eventually plans to return to the bantamweight division to exact revenge.

“And for the next time, not give any chance to make this like this decision that was made a few days ago,” Shevchenko said. “Of course, it’s on my mind, and I still want it. Not right now, not in the near future, but definitely it will happen.”

Now, Shevchenko can start entertaining a matchup repeatedly posed to her by fans and journalists who were aware of her kickboxing past at flyweight.

“Every time when people ask me about Joanna, I say that, why not? Because we have our history, our era in fighting Muay Thai, and now we can start to do the same in MMA in the UFC,” she said.

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of MMAjunkie.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 215 'Fight Motion:' In which Gilbert Melendez's lower leg swells up instantly

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Jeremy Stephens delivered a barrage of low kicks to Gilbert Melendez and, as we in the “Fight Motion: highlights for this past Saturday’s UFC 215 bout, the swelling began instantly and forced Melendez to the mat.

The super-slow-motion highlights capture the action from the event at Rogers place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada., which aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) once again proved his durability in the cage, but he’d probably just as soon forget all about his featherweight debut against Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC) as he dropped a unanimous decision with scores of 30-26, 30-26 and 30-25. The story of the fight was the repeated low kicks that hammered Melendez’s left leg.

“Fight Motion” highlights also include the main event, which champ Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) won over Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) by a narrow unanimous decision and Henry Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) finishing Wilson Reis  (22-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) via second-round TKO.

Check out the “Fight Motion” highlights above.

For more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

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Valentina Shevchenko explains scoring flaws in lengthy statement on UFC 215 loss to Amanda Nunes

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Valentina Shevchenko is still befuddled over the judges’ decision in her UFC 215 headliner with Amanda Nunes.

Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) fell just short of the UFC women’s bantamweight title this past weekend when she lost a split decision to Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in the headliner of UFC 215, which went down at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with the main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

It was a narrow and hotly contested decision, which saw each judge score the bout in a different manner. Shevchenko was instantly stunned by the result and called foul, stating that she did not understand how the contest could be scored in Nunes’ favor.

After a few days of reflection, Shevchenko has not changed her tune. She is still fuming and took to social media to post a lengthy statement with her thoughts on why all who perceive Nunes as the victor are wrong (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

The whole statement is also available below:

“First of all, I want to thank all those who supported me! The support from my dear friends, media, and fans is very important to me!

After 5 rounds fight the judges were divided in opinion, and 2-1 they gave the victory to Nunes (48-47, 47-48, 48-47). I do not think that the fight was lost, 3 rounds out of 5 I definitely won.

In the middle of the first round, after exchanging of punches, I dislocated a finger on my left hand, so I could not fully realize my advantage from the beginning of the fight. During the break after the first round, my coach Pavel Fedotov put the joint in place, and from the second round I was able to work with both hands.

And in the last 5th round Nunes made one takedown against one of mine.

In addition, the new rules say and we were advised before the fight that if you do not do any damage or action when you hold a position (including takedown) then this control does not give an advantage. And Nunes could'[t land no one punch on the ground.

For the whole fight, I did not get a hit to my face from her.

If someone else has a doubt in my victory in the 2, 3, 4 rounds, then why what advantage did Nunes win? Leading a passive right only pushing me with “tips to the leg and not landing any punches? While I had to in the same time both counterattack and attack her, because she took in a passive position.

Some write and say that she held the center of the octagon, as an advantage. Our competitions are not called – to guard the center of the octagon and win. Yes, you can occupy the center of the octagon, but then relieve all the possible attacks. A fighter must and cn use the entire perimeter of an octagon according to his tactics and style.

For example the styled of Mohamed Ali and Mike Tyson is completely different in how they used they used different parts of the ring. The rule of the center of the octagon is made for the one fighter avoids fight and running out from the fight. Then, yes, the one who is in the center of the octagon has the advantage.

Running into an open strike exchange against an opponent who is taller, bigger and heavier would be foolish of me. And how bad can end this kind of “runs forward” we have seen in various fight.

In my fights I put emphasis on technique, tactics and speed.

We are doing martial arts, it is not the hardest forehead competition to win the victory, and not to win in accidentally striking exchanges. The goal is to strike inflict damage and not receive damage in a response. And this can only be achieve by training your art to the highest level.

Therefore, after the fight, I have not a single bruise on my face, but all my fists and diners are broken from delivering punches. I am very upset that it happened, especially upset for those fans who worried about me and supported me.

MMA is a very interesting and diverse sport, anything can happen. Of course, I’m upset, but I’m not going to let this stop me from achieve my goal. I’ll rest a bit and then start training in order to get back in the octagon in the near future.

Nunes, we will meet again!”

Although getting a third bout after losing twice to a single opponent is difficult under any circumstance, Shevchenko said her top priority is to get another fight with Nunes. She originally claimed she would consider appealing the result, but her manager recently told ESPN.com that is no longer the plan.

A move down to the newly created UFC women’s flyweight division would seem like Shevchenko’s quickest path to another championship fight, but it appears her sole focus is to share the octagon with “The Lioness.”

For more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC champ Amanda Nunes thinks she won 4 of 5 rounds, plans to take off rest of 2017

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EDMONTON – UFC women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes has no doubt she dominated Valentina Shevchenko, winning four of five rounds in their rematch at UFC 215.

“I think in the fourth, she got me a little bit,” Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) said backstage at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which hosted the pay-per-view headliner. “But I think it’s a unanimous decision. I think she won the fourth.”

Two of three judges gave Nunes 48-47 scores while one dissented 48-47 for Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in a closely contested – and tough to score – split decision.

The fight played out more like an intense sparring session than fight. Interestingly, Shevchenko was the consensus winner of three of five rounds, though scores were all over the place and ultimately went to Nunes.

Many boos accompanied the tactical fight, but champ Nunes said her priority was not on delivering a crowd-pleasing fight. Instead, she wanted to answer critics of her stamina.

“I wanted to make this fight for the crowd, but tonight, this fight was for me,” she said. “To go five rounds, to prove I’m the best, (and) that I’m here for a reason.”

Nunes admitted it was tough to maintain her composure after injuring her foot in the second round. Plus, the sinusitis that forced her to withdraw last-minute from a UFC 213 headliner against Shevchenko was once again in full effect. Then there were intruding thoughts about the fate of her new house and car, which are currently endangered by Hurricane Irma in her adopted homeland of South Florida.

“You work so hard to get them, and I’m here and I can’t do anything about it,” she said.

What Nunes can do now is fix the health problems that have hindered her career. She said she will next undergo corrective surgery for her sinuses, taking the rest of the year off to recover.

“This is the first thing,” she said. “It’s still very bad. I’m still very congested.

“I think I’m going to take some time off because this is my breathing, and I have to take care of it. Sometimes, I can’t sleep at night. I think I’m going to take a break, and next year, I will come back.”

When she does, she will find a very fired-up Shevchenko waiting. The Kyrgyzstan native said she’ll ask the UFC for a third fight and may appeal the result.

Nunes said she delayed surgery so she could shut up Shevchenko. She may not have succeeded in doing that, but as far as what happened in the octagon, she holds her head high.

“I saved a lot of energy and made her do all the work,” Nunes said. “This was the strategy. Make her miss, make her do all the work, and then wait for the best moments to change the rounds.

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Valentina Shevchenko will ask UFC for third fight with Amanda Nunes

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EDMONTON – UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko seeks a third fight with champ Amanda Nunes after a split-decision loss at UFC 215.

“I want my title, and I’m ready to take one more fight against Amanda because I don’t agree, and I know it was my fight,” Shevchenko told reporters following Saturday’s pay-per-view headliner at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “If I have to fight her next, it will for sure be my victory.

“It’s difficult to say, because the UFC has to make the decision. But I will ask for the rematch.”

Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) indicated she would happily put off a move to the new women’s flyweight division, which might better suit her frame, in favor of another crack at “The Lioness.” Against Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), she appeared to be slightly undersized, though she was adamant she won rounds two through four – and was even confident she’d done enough in the final frame despite giving up a takedown.

“I agree when it’s totally right,” Shevchenko said. “If you lost, you lost. But if you didn’t lose, but the decision goes to the other side, you feel it’s totally not right.”

The judges’ decision was so poor in Shevchenko’s mind that she entertained the idea of appealing the loss, even if she doubted the efficacy of such a move.

“If I can, I will, because I totally don’t agree,” she said. “But I know from my experience, if judges make a decision once, it’s very difficult to change their mind.”

The close fight left Shevchenko with a dislocated finger in the first round of the fight courtesy of a punch from Nunes. The rest of the camp’s offense she downplayed as a factor by which judges could deny her the win. A late takedown from Nunes was nothing more than a chance to hold position while she struck from the bottom.

“It should be a clear victory,” Shevcheno said. “But from this fight, you can see on her face and my face who landed more punches. I had stitches on my skin because I hit her teeth. I totally disagree.”

Now, she’ll have to convince the UFC that the decision is controversial enough to justify putting them in the cage a third time. It was less than two years ago that Nunes handed her a decision loss in their first meeting before winning the title.

Down two fights, Shevchenko anticipates the UFC will have some thinking to do. But she hopes they’ll come to the decision she feels is just.

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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A game of inches, a questionable decision, and an uncertain future for the women's 135-pound class

When she found out she’d lost, Valentina Shevchenko was as fired up as she’d been all night.

Five rounds in the cage with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes in the UFC 215 main event, and you never saw that kind of sustained intensity out of her. As soon as the matter was decided, however, and in a split decision that went for Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC)? Then Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) seemed ready to go another 25 minutes.

“She didn’t hit (me) one time, not one punch, nothing significant,” Shevchenko said in her post-fight interview. “Look at her face. Her nose is red from my punches. And why is she still, she’s still (the champion). I really don’t understand.”

Of course, if the decision had gone the other way – and it easily could have, since a single point on a single scorecard swayed the outcome – Nunes would likely have been standing there saying some version of the same thing, only in a slightly different accent. She probably would have felt just as justified, too, since that’s how it goes with these kinds of fights.

For the better part of five rounds, Shevchenko fought with her back nearly touching the fence, her offense based on counter-punching and the occasional forward lunge. She never really hurt Nunes, just as Nunes never really hurt her, and she pinned her title hopes on winning a game of inches.

The problem with that approach is it leaves little room for error or misinterpretation. You need the judges to see everything you’re doing, and to appreciate it all, without even the slightest interference. There are a lot of ways for that strategy to go wrong, as Shevchenko discovered when she dropped to 0-2 against Nunes in a tortured rivalry that accidentally took some of the shine of the women’s 135-pound belt.

In a lot of ways, this is the worst-case scenario. Nunes already took a public opinion hit when she pulled out of the last scheduled fight with Shevchenko at UFC 214 due to illness. UFC President Dana White went out of his way to paint her as psychologically weak, which had to hurt her popularity, and she’s bound to get more unpopular still after winning a close and somewhat questionable decision.

So where does the women’s bantamweight division go from here? Gone are the days of the superstar Ronda Rousey. Gone even are the days of Miesha Tate, who was surprisingly resilient as the next best thing.

There’s no obvious contender for Nunes to face next. It’s not even obvious whether or not the UFC trusts her enough to give her the headliner role, since here she only stumbled into it by default after a late scratch of the men’s flyweight title bout.

Strange to think that it’s only been a little over a year since Nunes won the belt. Stranger still to think that, with her second successful title defense, she’s easily the most dominant champion the division has known in the post-Rousey era.

Unfortunately for Nunes and the UFC, all that doesn’t exactly add up to stardom. Instead, it leaves us with a bunch of questions. What both parties have to hope for is that fans still care enough to stick around for the answers.

For more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

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Photo: Check out the scorecards from Amanda Nunes' razor-thin UFC 215 win over Valentina Shevchenko

After eight rounds together in a UFC octagon, it’s still incredibly hard to separate UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and a woman who was thus far proven her toughest challenge, Valentina Shevchenko.

The pair’s long-awaited rematch served as the headlining bout of Saturday’s UFC 215 event at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Conventional wisdom stated that Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) would hold the advantage early, while Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) and her superior cardio prove dangerous late. In practice, Nunes seemed to favor a measured approach over the course of 25 minutes, holding the center of the cage throughout the fight and capitalizing on a few late takedowns to take home a narrow split-decision win.

Afterward, Shevchenko expressed her extreme displeasure with the scores, questioning how two of three judges came to the conclusion that Nunes deserved to retain her title.

Nunes vs. Shevchenko scorecards (click to enlarge)

Check out the picture above to see how – with all three judges actually scoring the fight a little differently. Tony Weeks was the only judge to side with Shevchenko, giving her rounds 2, 3 and 5.

Sal D’Amato had it for Nunes, giving her rounds 1, 3 and 5, while David Therien reached the same 48-47 score for Nunes but gave the champ rounds 1, 2 and 4.

Nunes now holds a pair of wins over Shevchenko, taking home an easier-to-score unanimous decision over the striking specialist at UFC 196 in March 2016.

Did judges get this one right? Let us know in the poll below.

For more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

Take Our Poll
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Twitter reacts to Amanda Nunes' narrow title defense vs. Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215

The rematch between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko once again went in the Brazilian’s favor on Saturday when she defended the UFC women’s bantamweight title in UFC 215’s main event.

After their rematch was pulled at the last minute from UFC 213 earlier this summer, Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) pulled of a narrow split-decision victory over Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in the pay-per-view main event at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Nunes’ title defense vs. Shevchenko at UFC 215.

* * * *

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie