After almost losing her women’s flyweight title at UFC 275, Valentina Shevchenko has assured future opponents that she remains unbeatable in the division.
Shevchenko came within a hair’s breadth of losing to Taila Santos this past weekend, only narrowly defending her title via split decision. The surging Brazilian prospect outgrappled Shevchenko for much of the fight, before the champ asserted her dominance in the later rounds.
The fight was the closest Shevchenko has come to tasting defeat as a flyweight. Since capturing the title from Joanna Jędrzejczyk in 2018, the 34-year-old has made seven defenses, almost all of which have been heavily one-sided affairs.
The only fighter prior to Santos to trouble Shevchenko was Jennifer Maia, who managed to take the pound-for-pound queen down to the canvas and hold her there for an extended period.
Shevchenko Says Flyweights Shouldn’t Get Their Hopes Up
The image of Shevchenko locked in a body triangle while Taila Santos attempted to choke her out is not one that goes hand in hand with an unbeatable aura. Rather, it’s no doubt lessened her fear factor and inspired confidence in her fellow flyweights.
At the UFC 275 post-fight press conference, however, Valentina sent a clear message to all those who may be encouraged by her unconvincing performance.
“Maybe they think they can beat me, but they cannot,” said Shevchenko. “Even in a hard position, champion’s mindset is every time will be on top. And this is what I have. As I mentioned, being in martial arts for 30 years, it’s made me (a) hard opponent, very hard. So even (though) they think they can, but they cannot.”
Do you think Valentina Shevchenko has lost her fear factor after UFC 275?