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Valentina Shevchenko successfully defended her flyweight world championship for the first time with a head kick knockout victory over Jessica Eye on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 238.
Shevchenko patiently laid traps through set patterns and a varied attack throughout the first round and in the opening moments of the second round, patterns that she then altered slightly enough to open up a hole in Eye’s defense and score the dramatic finish.
The end came 26 seconds into the second round.
In the first, Shevchenko connected with several left rear roundhouse kicks to the body before closing the distance and securing a body lock takedown.
From there, Shevchenko stacked up riding time from on top, mostly inside the half and full guard of Eye. After a few minutes of being controlled, Eye made her way to the cage and used it to get back to her feet.
The champion kept Eye pressed against the fence, however, until scoring another takedown with just under a minute in the round left, landing in side control.
Shevchenko locked on a crucifix control hold with just 15 seconds left and landed some punches to Eye’s defenseless head, then locked on a Kimura lock on the challenger’s far-side arm. Eye defended and then reversed positions to end the round on top.
Shevchenko began the second round with more left rear roundhouse kicks to Eye’s body, reinforcing the pattern set in the first. Then, suddenly, she made a crucial change to her attack, lifting her kick higher and smashing her shin flush on the head of Eye.
Shevchenko threw one more left roundhouse and, as Eye prepared to defend or absorb the body blow, her hands dropping slightly in the process, the champion’s kick soared just a bit higher and knocked Eye out, on contact, dropping her to the floor where she lay motionless for several minutes before waking up, and talking to officials.
More left rear roundhouse kicks to the body from Shevchenko as Eye stands angled out. Then, Shevchenko landed the left rear kick, high, knocking Eye out, on contact, dropping to the floor.
Afterward, Shevchenko explained her adjustments that led to her knockout win. “In the first round I felt that kick to the body went through,” she said.
“Then she was thinking maybe that I was kicking the liver so I had to change levels.”
The win is Shevchenko’s third straight. Eye had won three consecutive bouts of her own to earn the shot.
The champion promised to face “all” of her strawweight challengers and thanked her opponent. Eye’s record dips to 14-7 as Shevchenko’s moves to 17-3.
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