UFC: Valentina Shevchenko Says Taila Santos Needs to “Build Up” Her Name Again

Las Vegas, NV — Like Thanos and his Infinity Stones, UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko has been collecting precious gems of her own: rubies.

With each title defense, another ruby is affixed to her championship belt. So it was no surprise to find her keeping with that theme at the 14th Annual World MMA Awards in Las Vegas this past Friday.

“This is just my goal, to keep winning, to keep being the champion,” she told Cageside Press ahead of the awards ceremony. “Funny you mention defending the belt, I hear a lot about, best friends of a girl are diamonds, but in fighter’s case, it’s rubies. That’s why there’s a lot of rubies on me.”

Continuing to defend her belt is the focus for Shevchenko (23-3) these days, despite talk of possibly heading to bantamweight to challenge for a second title. Shevchenko now stands as the longest-serving UFC champion, discounting Amanda Nunes’ run as women’s featherweight champ in a division that doesn’t truly exist in the promotion.

Alexa Grasso and Manon Fiorot are both possibilities to challenge for the belt. A rematch with Taila Santos, who gave “Bullet” her toughest test at 125lbs, has also been mulled, though Shevchenko believes she has to earn it.

“You know, I was ready for when Alexa Grasso won her fight, I was like ‘okay, Alexa next!’ Then Manon Fiorot, she won her fight, ‘okay, she’s good, she’s going to be the next.’ I’m ready for any girl,” said Shevchenko. But when it comes to Taila Santos, “she has to build up a little bit her name again, because revenge doesn’t work like that,” the flyweight champ added. “I feel like girls like her, they won a few fights, sometimes they lost, but they have too much ego. And they are starting to speak about that. But I think the true martial artist has to prove that they deserve this revenge.”

Watch our full interview with UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko above.