Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko is satisfied after passing the toughest test of her title reign at UFC 275.
Speaking at the post-fight press conference following her split-decision win over Taila Santos, the 34-year-old claimed the fight went exactly how she was hoping.
“I did everything that I had to do,” Shevchenko said. “I had a (challenging) fight, and I (went the) distance, five rounds. And this is exactly what I wanted: an opponent who (was) not giving up from the first second, going to the end.”
The champion went on to explain the value of facing a challenger that pushed her the way Santos did.
“And in this kind of fight, you can really show what you’re made of: your character, your mindset. You kinda get what is yours: victory, no matter how hard, no matter how difficult. It’s showing who you are. So I’m happy.”
Shevchenko Explains Why Judges Scored The Fight In Her Favor
Shevchenko’s seventh title defense was easily her most challenging. Santos was able to use her wrestling to control “Bullet” for large periods of the bout and even threaten for submissions.
According to the 34-year-old, there was never any real danger of her being finished.
“Nothing surprised me. And I really didn’t have any position — even when she was on my back, I didn’t feel trouble, kinda like, ‘Oh, my god. This is tight,’ and you have to work on your character to escape this.”
The scoring of the bout drew some controversy online, but Shevchenko echoed a sentiment that has been a regular headline in the MMA world as of late: damage is of greater value than position.
“And more than that, she kind of was inactive. And me, even being in that position, I was striking. And I (felt) the power of the strike, and I felt how she (reacted) because it was hurting her. And this is what counts the most in mixed martial arts: damage. And through the fight, going from round to round, you can see more damage showing on her face, more and more. And this is kind of like, no matter what position, you have to work your job.”
Serving as the co-main event of UFC 275, Shevchenko’s victory over Santos was the only bout of the event’s main card to go the distance.
The main event’s light heavyweight title fight looked like it was also bound for a decision, but challenger Jiří Procházka snatched a submission with less than 30 seconds left and forced a tap from champion Glover Teixeira.
What do you think of Shevchenko’s comments about her fight with Taila Santos?