Saturday, October 31, 2020

EXCLUSIVE: Antonina Shevchenko Talks UFC Debut & Says She’d Never Fight Her Sister Valentina

Before Valentina Shevchenko competes for the vacant UFC flyweight championship at UFC 231, her sister is set to make her promotional debut.

Antonina Shevchenko will grace the octagon for the first time on Nov. 30 at The Ultimate Fighter Season 28 Finale when she meets late replacement Ji Yeon Kim. Initially slated to face Ashlee Evans-Smith – who had to pull out due to injury, Shevchenko says she didn’t need to change much in her training for the new opponent.

“I didn’t need to make [many] changes because of my fight with Ashlee Evans-Smith I was preparing the same,” Shevchenko explained to MMANews in an exclusive interview. “Of course imposing my strong [striking] game. Ashlee Evans-Smith didn’t wrestle very much or go to the ground very much. But [her] fighting me she would have probably gone to the ground. I was preparing for this game, wrestling, for everything. It’s the same preparations for Valentina’s fight [against Joanna Jedrzejczyk] to be ready to standup, ground game, for everything because you don’t know what your opponent will do. When we changed for the new opponent, I know she’s a good striker, strong boxing technique. I think I have the same strong boxing game. So no we didn’t change too much we just keep going and going.”

Shevchenko (6-0) is coming off a win over Jaimee Nievera on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series where she earned a UFC contract. The 33-year-old is also a former Lion Fight Muay-Thai world champion and she has a record of 39-1 in kickboxing. With the flyweight division relativity new, a win for Shevchenko could move her up the rankings rather quickly. But should her sister end up capturing the flyweight title at UFC 231, Shevchenko says she’d never fight her sister if the opportunity presented itself.

“We’re really thinking in the future there will be this situation [fighting for the title]. We haven’t thought yet what we would do. I would not fight my sister and there are so many girls to fight [in the flyweight division] it’s not the sport where sisters can fight together.”

Kim (8-1-2) has gone 2-1 in the octagon with wins over Justin Kish and Melinda Faban. The 29-year-old will be competing for the third time this year.

The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale takes place on Nov. 30 at The Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event is a welterweight matchup with Kamaru Usman facing Rafael Dos Anjos.

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