Friday, August 19, 2022

O’Neill Co-Signs Barber’s Hot Take On Valentina Shevchenko

UFC women’s flyweight Casey O’Neill has shared a sentiment similar to that of fellow contender Maycee Barber in regards to Valentina Shevchenko’s latest title defense.

At UFC 275, the lengthy rule of 125-pound queen Shevchenko continued. After making it to six successful retentions last year, a run that includes victories over Liz Carmouche, Katlyn Chookagian, and Jéssica Andrade, “Bullet” made it seven in Singapore at the expense of Taila Santos — but it wasn’t without adversity.

After the Brazilian imposed her grappling offense early, many had Shevchenko on the way to having the belt ripped from her grasp on the scorecards. But after a late resurgence, the Kyrgyzstani secured the nod from two judges, meaning she left the Octagon with a narrow split decision win added to her record.

While Shevchenko ultimately maintained her place on the throne, the performance of Santos has certainly put blood in the water and got the flyweight sharks circling, including Barber.

During the UFC 276 post-fight press conference, which came after she outpointed the now-retired Jessica Eye, “The Future” gave her take on her division’s champion, suggesting that the Brazilian ‘exposed’ her last month.

“She’s being exposed more and more with every fight that she has and we’re going to continue to expose that, and I’m going to continue to grind and chase that title,” Barber said. “So when it happens, not if it happens, but when it happens, I’ll be ready… Taila Santos, had she not got that head clash thing, you know, and her eye being swollen, I honestly think she would be the champion right now.”

As it turns out, Barber isn’t the only ranked women’s flyweight who shares that take…

O’Neill: Santos “Exposed” Holes In Shevchenko’s Game

While Barber entered the top 10 with her win against Eye on July 2, that matchup was originally set to see #11-ranked contender Casey O’Neill given the chance to add the name of a former title challenger to her résumé. Had she been the one interacting with the media at UFC 276, one part of the presser would have been very similar.

During a recent interview with The AllStar, “King Casey” gave her take on Shevchenko’s most recent defense. Like Barber, the Scottish-born Australian noted that Santos exploited and exposed holes in the game of “Bullet,” something she sees as somewhat of a blueprint for future challengers.

“Watching it live, going into the fifth round, I was like, ‘Valentina is losing this fight, she needs to finish,'” O’Neill said. “Very, very shocked when I heard the scorecards come back and she won the fight, especially 49-46… I definitely think, in my opinion, that Taila won. I think that Taila just exposed a lot of holes that Valentina still has.

“I think that MMA is ever-rolling, ever-changing, and ever-developing. You’ve got to change your game. You can’t stay on top forever having the same gameplan. I think she [Santos] just exposed some things that Valentina needs to work on again,” O’Neill added. “She put out a blueprint of, ‘If you’re gonna beat Valentina, this is the way to go.'”

Do you agree with Casey O’Neill and Maycee Barber? Were the holes in Valentina Shevchenko’s game “exposed” by Taila Santos?

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