Las Vegas, NV — Eight months passed between Valentina Shevchenko’s last title defense, and her return at UFC 255 on Saturday. She doesn’t intend to let that happen again.
“I’m ready to get back and have another title defense,” she told media outlets backstage at the UFC Apex, following a unanimous decision win over Jennifer Maia. That was title defense number four. The fact that Maia managed to win a round raised some eyebrows, but by the time the bell rang, it wasn’t exactly close.
Following her victory, UFC President Dana White suggested that Jessica Andrade, the former strawweight champ who recently arrived at flyweight, should be next for “Bullet.”
“I don’t choose my opponents. Whoever will be in front of me, I’m going to face,” Shevchenko responded to the suggestion. “For me, it doesn’t make any difference. Andrade, or someone else, or whoever.”
The flyweight champion does see the merit in hosting a number one contender’s fight for the division, mind you. It’s the timing that troubles her.
“I think it would be fair to have Andrade against Lauren Murphy,” suggested Shevchenko “because Lauren Murphy, she showed her strengths and she has a lot of wins.”
“But the question is if I want to wait that much,” she added, immediately answering her own question by saying that “I don’t want to wait that much. Because I was waiting a lot already, and I’m not agreeing to wait more. Because if they fight, they have to recover, and it’s going to be a few months from there. And I’m ready to go back to the octagon as soon as I feel good — and I feel good.”
When asked about a return time frame, Shevchenko couldn’t give a specific month. First, she wants to celebrate the win over Maia. “It’s not going to be long,” she promised.
Asked about another fight against Amanda Nunes at bantamweight, or perhaps Weili Zhang moving up to challenge for Shevchenko’s flyweight title, the Kyrgyzstani fighter still has her heart set on another fight with “The Lioness.”
“I think knowing that our second fight, I didn’t lose to Amanda — I technically lost, but I didn’t — I think the third fight is going to be something big,” Shevchenko predicted. “But it has to be in the right time, right place. And I would like to see it not without fans. With a lot of crowds, with a lot of energy.”
“I know it’s going to happen sometime, some day. It’s going to be huge,” she added.
Watch the full UFC 255 post-fight press conference with Valentina Shevchenko above.