LAS VEGAS – Valentina Shevchenko spoke after Noche UFC with the same level of seriousness and professionalism fans are accustomed to, but she did so with a bit of an edge Saturday backstage at T-Mobile Arena.
The tonal change stemmed from a surprising split draw decision in her title challenge vs. Alexa Grasso, the UFC women’s flyweight champion who retained the title as the result of a victor-less fight. Shevchenko (23-4-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC) exited the fight feeling conflicted.
“It’s kind of crossing feelings,” Shevchenko told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a post-fight news conference. “From one side, I’m proud of myself because I fought the battle from the first second to the very end of the fight. I fought with all my heart, with all my soul. From the other side, it’s like frustration because I think three rounds I won.”
Much of the controversy coming out of the main event, revolves around the fifth round scorecard of the judge who tallied the fight a draw. Judge Mike Bell awarded Grasso (16-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) a 10-8 in Round 5, throwing a monkey wrench in a fight many viewers – and the other two cage-side judges – had as going 48-47 one way or the other.
Shevchenko couldn’t wrap her head around it, though she tried to conceive answers. A 10-8, to Shevchenko, would’ve looked a lot different than what transpired.
“Two rounds was maybe her,” Shevchenko said. “But I feel the 10-8 in the fifth round, it’s completely unfair. … I think I did everything to secure the victory. Unfortunately, I think this event is Mexican Independence Day, that’s why it affected the decision of the judge to give 10-8 in the fifth round. From my experience, it’s 10-8 when one fighter completely cannot do nothing. It’s like running around, looking for an escape from the octagon. It’s like, miserable.
“But in the fifth round, it was like four minutes or however many minutes stand up. She didn’t land one punch. She could only take the back position on what it was? The last minute or minute-and-a-half? I don’t remember now. But even there, it was not damage. It was not too much damage to (deserve) this 10-8. That’s why I said there’s this double feeling. On one side, I’m proud of myself. On one side, I’m frustrated from the judges’ decision.”
The damages from the fight weren’t just in the record-keeping and hardware departments. Shevchenko sported a brace on her right wrist and hand and revealed she suffered what she thinks is a broken thumb in Round 1.
Given her injury and the urge to speak before thinking in an emotional moment, Shevchenko withheld any predictions on what her next move may be.
“First of all, I don’t want to rush,” Shevchenko said. “I don’t want to say something that tomorrow I’ll change my mind. First of all, I want to see how long it’s going to heal because this is the most important. When my next fight is going to happen, I want to perform the best way I can. I don’t want to perform 50 percent. I want to do 100. That’s why I don’t know right now what is going to be next or who is going to be next. But I am here.
“With this performance tonight, I showed I have much more forward to go. This is kind of like no stop, no less power that I have, no less motivation. It’s kind of like no matter how old I am, I’m feeling great. I’m happy that martial arts is my lifestyle. I’m happy that martial arts is the way I’m living my life. I’m going to do that before I lose this motivation. Hopefully, I’m going to feel that for a long time.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Noche UFC.