UFC 285: Valentina Shevchenko Believes She Showed Difference Between Champion and Challenger In Last Fight

Las Vegas, NV — In Valentina Shevchenko’s opinion, her last title defence simply proved the difference between champion and challenger.

The longtime UFC women’s flyweight champ experienced what many believe was her toughest fight to date opposite Taila Santos last year. The fight left enough of an impression that it was almost immediately brought up during the UFC 285 media day, ahead of Shevchenko’s return against Alexa Grasso.

“I think it was a good fight, and definitely we’re speaking about top competition. Best promotion of mixed martial arts in the world, we’re competing against all the best athletes,” Shevchenko told media outlets including Cageside Press. “Not every fight can be an easy fight, but this is the difference between champion and challenger. Because champion, no matter how hard the fight is, will find a way to stay the champion.”

“This is what I showed in the fight. No matter how hard it was, yes it was harder than maybe previous fights, but still the champion I am.”

So rare is it to see Shevchenko struggle — her win over Santos came via split decision — that the memory of that performance has yet to fade. That, even as Shevchenko enters her fight with Grasso a heavy favorite. Already, other opponents are being lined up for “Bullet” — from Erin Blanchfield to talk of former UFC bantamweight Rin Nakai returning to the promotion.

Nakai, on a ten-fight win streak outside the UFC, is an opponent Shevchenko said she’s willing to fight — so long as the Japanese star earns her spot in the top ten. As for Blanchfield, the champ feels it’s just too soon. Maybe another fight, maybe even more, she suggested, would be required for Blanchfield to fight for gold.

“I still believe, if they put her [in the fight], that’s fine, but I still believe she’s not ready for the title fight yet,” she stated.

After years of going through gruelling training camps, Valentina Shevchenko continues to grow, and continues to look for waves to improve her skill set.

“Kind of the cool thing about martial arts is, you never stop improving. No matter how successful you are, you are here to be better every single day,” she told Cageside Press. “No matter how successful a fight or what fight it was, there are some things to work on after every fight.”

Shevchenko and her team sit down after every title fight with that in mind, and “see what we can add to my game, and we work on that. This process is never stopping for me, so it’s kind of natural for me. Every time I’m looking how to be better.”

The flyweight champ later addressed the improvement in women’s MMA as a whole in recent years. “The level is huge right now. Now we can see not only style against style, for example wrestler against striker — no, girls are complete MMA fighters. They fight good in striking, they fight good in wrestling, they fight good in the ground game. This is the development of the sport, and MMA, mixed martial arts, is the number one sport in the whole world right now.”

Watch the full UFC 285 media day appearance by Valentina Shevchenko above.


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