Both Shevchenko sisters compete this Saturday night at UFC 255.
Valentina Shevchenko, of course, has her women’s flyweight title on the line in the co-main event. Earlier in the evening, meanwhile, Antonina Shevchenko faces off with “The Violence Queen” Ariane Lipski.
The sisters Shevchenko have trained together — they usually do. It’s rare, however, for siblings to share a card in the UFC. “Of course I’m excited to fight together with my sister on the same card, same night,” Antonina told Cageside Press at the UFC 255 media day this week. “We had training camp together, and it was just great. I like this, because we have the same training camp, same atmosphere for the training camp, same atmosphere at home — I’m excited for this fight, and looking forward to hers.”
In Lipski, Shevchenko sees an opponent that is “tough, aggressive, strong.” One entering the bout off two victories in her last two fights. “I mean, I fight in the UFC, I don’t expect easy opponents here. That’s why I’m ready for a tough fight, and I had good training camp. I just just need this victory this time.”
“La Pantera” is coming off a loss in her last outing, against a top contender in Katlyn Chookagian. She’s 2-2 in her UFC career to date, and at 36, her MMA run has come rather late. Shevchenko actually took a handful of fights in the early 2000s, but her focus was kickboxing and Muay Thai until around 2017. A couple of wins on the regional circuit and a Contender Series win later, and Shevchenko landed in the UFC alongside her more famous sister.
Expectations come with that familial bond. But that time away is a factor as well. As Shevchenko noted this week, MMA is “just evolving.” Fighters, she said, are “growing up, every year you can see fighters, just young and older fighters, they’re better and better and better.”
“Fighters know everything. And they’re good in everything,” she added. “My transition was kind of, I started to fight mixed martial arts in 2002. So it wasn’t like, now I transition to MMA.” There was, however, the time when “I fought just Muay Thai. And I did come back in 2017 in MMA, and I’m here in UFC.” Now, she has certain expectations of herself — to do well, because in the UFC, you have to. As well, she added, “I just want to prove to myself that I belong here.”
UFC 255 takes place Saturday, November 21 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs live on PPV following online and televised prelims.