Valentina Shevchenko squares off with Jennifer Maia with the Flyweight Championship on the line.
Valentina Shevchenko defeats Jessica Eye at UFC 238.
Valentina Shevchenko (19-3-0) and Jennifer Maia (18-6-1) will be dueling it out in the coheadlining fight at UFC 255 for the Women’s Flyweight Championship. Shevchenko, the reigning Flyweight Champion, will be making her fourth title defense winning the belt at UFC 231 in 2018.
Schevchenko has been on a hot streak as of late, winning five straight including the win against Joanna Jędrzejczyk (16-4-0) that gave her the championship belt. Shevchenko has also cemented herself as one of the most fearsome women’s fighters in MMA today. She is currently ranked as the UFC #3 Pound-for-Pound women’s fighter and is already looking ahead to fighting for the number one ranking, currently held by Amanda Nunes. The two have fought twice, with Shevchenko losing both times by decision, but she felt that was the rightful winner in their last match.
In an interview with Hablemos MMA, Shevchenko explained why she deserves another shot at Nunes.
“This fight right now, as champion vs. champion, I think the judges will have a different outlook towards the fight,” she said. “Three years ago in 2017 when we had our fight, they thought that just that one thing gave her the victory, and that was the takedown she got in the fifth round. She didn’t even start it – it was me who initiated. But since it was the final round, we were both slippery. She’s heavier, so I ended on bottom when I was supposed to land on top.”
If Shevchenko wants a rematch with Nunes, it would be wise for her to not overlook Maia, her next opponent. Maia managed to get her shot at the title with an upset win over Joanne Calderwood (14-5-0) at UFC Vegas 5. Calderwood, at the time the number one contender, was expected by many to cruise through that fight on her way to her own title match against Shevchenko. Maia shocked both Calderwood and the experts, defeating Calderwood by submission in the first round.
Maia is once again playing the role of underdog in this fight, but she doesn’t lack confidence in her ability to surprise the world once again. In an interview with AG Fight, Maia spoke on her chances at defying the odds. ‘
“Nobody is invincible. And I feel so prepared that, if there is a person at the moment who can beat (Valentina), I feel like it’s me. I feel like it’s time for her to prove (that no one is invincible). The time has come to show it, winning it. To show that she managed to be champion for a while, but it will always be time for a defeat,”
History seems to dictate that Shevchenko will continue her domination of the Flyweight division and trounce Maia. Maia, however, has proven that she is capable of taking on any challenger no matter how tough. It’s all on the table and it really could be either fighter’s game.