UFC 255 on Saturday had a sibling storyline that had never happened in the promotion’s history; for the first time in the UFC, two sisters, Valentina and Antonina Shevchenko competed in the same event.
While the concept of two siblings fighting isn’t a new one, both choosing to pursue a career in it is rarer. The UFC has seen its share of sibling fighters, Nate and Nick Diaz, Anthony and Sergio Pettis, and Dominick and Alex Reyes, just to name a few. However, what is uncommon for the UFC is when the siblings are both contenders at the same time.
Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko defended her belt in the UFC 255 co-main event on Saturday evening. Earlier in the Prelims, No. 15-ranked Flyweight Antonina Shevchenko entered the Octagon to kick off the first ever event with two sisters competing on the same night.
With Antonina fighting first, the pressure was on her shoulders to win and give the pair the best possible shot at a sibling sweep of UFC 255.
“I had this pressure because a perfect night would only be if we both win,” Antonina told Joe Rogan in the post-fight interview. “I had to do my part. It was good pressure. It’s pressure that motivates you.”
Antonina handled the pressure well and managed to finish off Ariane Lipski in the second round. It was clear that Lipski would need a dramatic finish to fend off Antonina as she had near-perfect control.
“She had an amazing victory today, and I was watching in the hotel,” Valentina said about her sister in the post-fight press conference. “Everything was so perfect. No mistakes. In my opinion, she deserves a best performance bonus tonight.”
Now, the pressure was handed off to her younger sister for the co-main event.
However, the pressure wasn’t on right away, as the champ was entering the bout as a -2000 favorite according to DraftKings. To put it in simple terms, a $2000 bet on Valentina to win would only pay $100 of profit, meaning that she was a safe bet with little risk.
Although Vegas deemed this bout a done deal before it even started, No. 3 Jennifer Maia made things very interesting and hung in there through all five rounds,even manning to win the second round. This is significant because she had only lost one round prior to Saturday in her entire Flyweight career.
At one point, Valentina dropped to only a -375 favorite on the live-betting odds. Although Maia performed a lot better than many people expected, Valentina still got the job done and won via unanimous decision.
After doing her patented jig in the middle of the Octagon, she was embraced by her sister in celebration. For the first time ever, two sisters competed and won in the same event.
Because the pair was scheduled to be on the same event for a few weeks, they were able to align their training camps and work together.
“We were so united,” Antonina said in the post-fight press conference. “We just supported each other every day. It was such a supportive atmosphere.”
Having any type of “first” in UFC history puts them amongst exclusive company. Although both of the siblings’ next fights are unknown, Valentina will look to defend her belt, and Antonina will most likely move up the rankings, potentially into a top-10 spot in the future.