JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Valentina Shevchenko continued to prove herself as one of the most dominant champions in women’s MMA history Saturday.
But the women’s flyweight champ isn’t that interested in picking whom she’ll take on next after UFC 261. Shevchenko (21-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) stopped former strawweight champ Jessica Andrade (21-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) with a second-round TKO at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. It was the UFC’s first event in front of fans in more than a year.
“For me, it seems very simple – (people who say) this name or that name,” Shevchenko told MMA Junkie after her win. “I want to do something different. I want to continue to show and be a real martial artist, not someone who is, ‘OK, this name is convenient.’ I don’t like those things.
“I want to be very honest in what I do and continue what I do in my weight class. It doesn’t matter who’s going to be in front of me. I just want to fight them to prove I’m better.”
In the buildup to her fight with Andrade, in which she was a sizable favorite, Shevchenko said the narrative was that her opponent could bring a particular danger to the fight that finally might make the champ vulnerable.
Against Andrade, the theory was the Brazilian’s power would be what could finally stop Shevchenko. But she said she heard that before a past fight with Holly Holm, and she handled her boxing. Or that Julianna Pena would be too much for her on the ground – and she submitted her.
“I really liked how this fight played before the fight – people created so much interest,” Shevchenko said. “Like, ‘Jessica, she brings so much.’ And some people doubted if I could handle it. I didn’t want to say anything before the fight. I really liked it. From one side, it’s creating some kind of interest for the fight and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, maybe this is something.’
“But I was so sure in my power, what I can do, and what I can bring – that’s why I was like, ‘OK, it’s going to be a surprise for you. I’ll let you believe in your power.'”
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The win was Shevchenko’s seventh straight, sixth straight title fight win and fifth successful defense. Her only two losses the past 10 years have come to current UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champ Amanda Nunes – which always is going to beg the question of when she’ll ask for another shot at her.
But the 125-pound champ said going back up to 135 for a shot at Nunes is something that needs to happen organically and that she won’t go around asking for the trilogy.
“My career is not going to be over soon,” she said. “I plan to fight for a long time. This fight is just going to happen. I’m not going to push it and say, ‘Give me Amanda right now. I’m going to break her face.’ This fight is just going to happen. It’s going to happen just naturally, when everyone feels like, ‘There’s no more. Only this fight makes sense for everyone’ – when the fans, when the UFC, when Dana White thinks we need this fight.
“When it’s time to happen, it’s going to be something big and huge – and I’ll be ready for it. I’m already for it – but I’ll be sure to gain some pounds back.”
But until then, Shevchenko is content to wait for whatever name the UFC brings to her next. She’ll corner her sister Antonina next month at UFC 262, then go from there.