UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko is not about to look past an opponent, no matter how lopsided the odds.
But as she heads into UFC 275, where she’ll look to defend her title against Taila Santos for a record-setting seventh time, “Bullet” has grander plans in mind.
Title defences, setting records? “Everything. Everything that you mentioned right now, it’s in my head,” Shevchenko (22-3) told Cageside Press during a virtual press conference Monday night, promoting UFC 275 in Singapore next month. “But still, not looking past my next challenge. Not still looking — the key, not underestimating your opponent.”
For Shevchenko, martial arts is a lifestyle, and she wants to keep active, stay in shape, and defend her title. Past that? “I don’t know what the end of the year is going to bring. Maybe to fight in a different weight class, to go for double champ status. I don’t know.”
Shevchenko said she’s been speaking with her management and team about those possibilities, “just waiting for the right moment to make it happen.” That moment could soon be upon us.
Later this summer, Amanda Nunes is expected to run it back with Julianna Pena, to try to reclaim her bantamweight title. If current champ Pena were to win, it would seemingly open the door for a rematch between her and Shevchenko.
“I think, why not. Because a few years ago we fought with Julianna, I submitted her with arm-bar in the second round,” Shevchenko said on the prospect of going up to face Pena for the bantamweight title. “And I think it’s going to be an exciting fight for everyone as well. Or she would go down and try to challenge in flyweight, whatever.”
That said, the flyweight champ isn’t sure if Pena will still be champion following the second fight with Nunes. It all depends on which Amanda Nunes shows up.
“If Amanda will be in the same shape [as when] she fought Julianna that time, definitely Julianna has all chances to win [against her]. But if Amanda will be in the fight shape [as when] she fought me, I think she will get back her belt, and they will still come back for this third fight.”
Which could put Shevchenko’s plans to make a run at another belt on hold. Regardless, she’s willing to take on either champion. “Either way, I don’t care really. I can fight both of them at the same time.”