The first of three title fights on the UFC 261 card saw Valentina Shevchenko put her flyweight title on the line against Jessica Andrade.
The Brazilian’s status as a former champ (at strawweight) who, like Shevchenko, had previously competed at 135lbs, had many feeling that the match-up was Shevchenko’s toughest test to date as champ. Especially given Andrade’s emphatic finish of Katlyn Chookagian upon her arrival in the flyweight division.
In the wake of two leg injuries, one extremely serious to Chris Weidman, fans were no doubt holding their breath awaiting the first kick of Shevchenko vs. Andrade at UFC 261. Brazil’s Andrade charged in early, but Shevchenko easily avoided the attack. The champ then caught a kick, clinched, and took Andrade down. When the challenger popped up, “Bullet” dragged her right back down.
From there, the champ controlled with a body lock, while Andrade tried backwards elbows. At range, Shevchenko as expected proved the more technical striker. But Andrade found some success with body shots in the clinch, at least until Shevchenko took her down.
The size advantage was clear — Shevchenko was the larger flyweight. The strength advantage was perhaps surprising; Valentina had the edge there too. Then, on the ground along the fence, Shevchenko worked on a choke attempt. With the position slightly off, Andrade was able to wait it out. But back on the feet, Shevchenko landed a pair of knees. One more takedown to finish the round finished up a solid five minutes for Valentina — and a rough start for the challenger.
Shevchenko scored another takedown early in the second, winning the grappling side of things as well. Once again, Shevchenko was in control on top, with plenty of time in the driver’s seat. When Andrade made it back up, and worked for a takedown of her own, she couldn’t get the champ off her feet. Instead, a throw by Shevchenko put her right back on top, in side control. Shevchenko then secured a crucifix, much to the thrill of the sold-out crowd. Punches flowed, elbows followed. It wasn’t long before the stoppage arrived — in dominant, emphatic fashion.
BEEN OUR QUEEN.
IS OUR QUEEN.
— UFC (@ufc) April 25, 2021
Toughest challenge to date vanquished, there will be a real question as to what Valentina Shevchenko does next — because she is coming very close to cleaning out the division.
Official Result: Valentina Shevchenko def. Jessica Andrade by TKO, Round 2, 3:19