Las Vegas, NV — UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko is looking to make her sixth consecutive title defense this weekend at UFC 266.
Opposite “Bullet” will be the gritty Lauren Murphy, who has clawed her to a title shot, fighting tooth and nail against a promotion that was seemingly in favor of bigger names. With Shevchenko having all but cleared out the division, however, Murphy has finally arrived — and suggested she might be one of the toughest, most durable fighters the champ has faced.
Shevchenk expressed doubts at Wednesday’s UFC 266 media day.
“More durable athlete than I’ve ever seen, I doubt. More technical, I doubt. More well rounded, I doubt. So I don’t know,” Shevchenko (21-3) responded. “For all the years that I was fighting, it’s kind of hard to surprise me with something special if you’re not a super-human. I know she’s well-rounded, I know she’s strong, I know she’s dangerous. This is everything I have to know about her. But something special, that I put pressure on my shoulders? No.”
UFC 266 is something of a showcase for the women’s flyweight division, with two other fights in the weight class adorning the card. But Shevchenko admitted she finds it hard to keep track of those other fights while laser-focused on her own.
“I even don’t know what the full fight card is, because I’m focused on only my opponent. I know it’s going to be Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo fighting, and this is everything I know,” she stated. “When you’re focused on something and it really takes all your attention, it’s very hard to think about something else.”
Since sister Antonina joined the UFC in 2018, a number of fighters have seen an opportunity: beat the sister to create a storyline, and a path to the champ. For her part, Valentina dismissed that idea on Wednesday.
“You know, do you think it’s really happening? I think there is more girls in the top they have to pass through before they get to me,” the champ opined. “I really don’t know who’s thinking like that.”
Watch the full UFC 266 media day appearance from Valentina Shevchenko above. More coverage from the event can be found below.