Jacksonville, Florida — Rest assured, the fans played a role at UFC 261 on Saturday. That’s per women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
“It made a big difference. It’s a totally different feeling. It’s so much energy leading to the fight,” Shevchenko (21-3) said during Saturday’s post-fight press conference, addressing the return of fans to the building.
“You walk out to the fight with a certain level of energy. When I heard everyone roaring, saying my name, my energy went to the ceiling. All the way up,” she continued. And despite having fought in front of packed houses numerous times before, “I definitely forgot how it feels,” Shevchenko added.
“Bullet” put on a dominant showing against former strawweight Jessica Andrade in the first of three title fights on Saturday. Once she trapped the Brazilian in a crucifix in the second round, the finish was a given. With her fifth title defense under her belt, Shevchenko has all but cleared out her division.
That has led right back to talk of another fight with Amanda Nunes. Nunes holds two wins over the flyweight champ, but the second in particular was extremely controversial. Many saw Shevchenko winning the bout. Asked if she wouldn’t be satisfied without fighting Nunes once more before her career ends, Shevchenko espoused her belief that the fight would happen.
And don’t worry, she’ll be fighting for a long time to come. “It’s not going to [be] over soon. I plan to fight for a long time,” Shevchenko stated. “This fight is going to happen. I’m not going to push it, and say like ‘oh give me Amanda right now, I’m gonna break her face.’ I’m not going to say it, because I know this fight is gonna happen. It’s going to happen naturally, when everyone feels like there is no more, only this fight makes sense for everyone.”
When the fans, and Dana White, recognize that the fight needs to happen, “it’s going to be something big, and huge. And I will be ready for this. I’m already ready for this. But I will make sure to gain some pounds back.”
After the fight, media and fans were looking for Valentina Shevchenko to call her next shot, Nunes or otherwise. Coming up, Joanne Calderwood will face Lauren Murphy, in a fight that could produce the next challenger.
The champ, however, has been too focused on Andrade to even notice. “Everyone wanted to hear the name, straight after the fight, like ‘give me the next name!’ But it’s hard for me to do it right now, because when I prepared for Jessica, I was thinking only about Jessica,” Shevchenko explained. “I don’t even know who’s going to fight in my flyweight division next. I don’t know who’s fighting next, because I was so focused on my fight.”
Watch the full UFC 261 post-fight press conference with Valentina Shevcheno above.