In the co-main event of 2021’s year-ending pay-per-view, Julianna Peña did what most had perceived to be impossible: end the two-division rule of Nunes. Courtesy of a second-round submission, the Brazilian was beaten for the first time since 2014.
As well as snapping the consensus female MMA GOAT’s 12-fight win streak, Peña had secured her ascent to the top of the bantamweight mountaintop, something she’d promised to accomplish in the weeks and months leading up to her long-awaited opportunity.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Shevchenko, who continues to reign supreme over the flyweights, discussed what went wrong for the “Lioness” last December.
While she admitted to being surprised at the result, “Bullet” did say that she’d acknowledged something different in Nunes’ demeanor and fighting shape on the night, which she believes was a far cry from when she shared the Octagon with Nunes a number of years ago.
“I was not in like, shock. Of course, it was surprising. But the other thing, I didn’t see Amanda in the same fight shape as she used to be in the fight,” said Shevchenko. “For example, when we fought together, she was completely like, different eyes, different — I don’t know, everything. But in the Julianna fight, she was a bit relaxed. I don’t know how she prepared for this fight, but she looked different.”
Having suggested that Nunes had entered the fight under-prepared, something the featherweight champ confirmed herself earlier this year, Shevchenko insisted that she’ll never find herself in a similar situation.
Shevchenko: I’ll Never Under-Prepare & Give Up
Despite dominating the 125-pound division since 2018 and successfully defending the gold on six occasions, Shevchenko doesn’t struggle to find the motivation and hunger needed to compete at the highest level.
With that in mind, the Kyrgyzstani isn’t concerned about losing her championship in the same way Nunes did at UFC 269. After seemingly echoing the sentiment that Nunes quit after being put in a position she hadn’t experienced in years against Peña, Shevchenko assured that she’ll always be fully prepared for her own defenses.
“This doesn’t have to do with me, because I know exactly that to be a dominant and very powerful, you have to be very careful, respectful, and prepare for the fight with hunger mode, when you’re very — really wanna fight, you don’t wanna give up just because it doesn’t feel that you’re in the mood for a fight,” said Shevchenko.
“This is what I’m trying to avoid in my career and my preparation, in everything… It’s nothing that I have to worry about. I have to worry about what I have in my mind at this moment,” concluded Shevchenko.
The flyweight queen will look to prove that her hunger to maintain her spot on the throne isn’t dimming when she enters the Octagon for the first time this year next week. In the UFC 275 co-main event, “Bullet” will throw down with the seventh challenger to her reign, Taila Santos.
What do you make of Valentina Shevchenko’s comments?