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Valentina Shevchenko opens up about getting caught in shootout crossfire, her coach being shot

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Valentina Shevchenko was not scared in the moment. Adrenaline took over. She needed to help her longtime coach to the hospital after he was shot.

It was only afterward, in the ensuing days, that the UFC women's bantamweight contender felt real fear.

"I didn't want to go the street," Shevchenko told MMA Fighting. "I was at the house. Every time they were working on the street, I was looking around like maybe somebody was going to attack me at this moment."

Late last month, Shevchenko and her coach Pavel Fedotov were eating dinner at a local chicken restaurant in Lima, Peru. Robbers came into the establishment, shook down the owner for money and then went table to table, assaulting customers until they handed over their valuable belongings.

As the robbers drew nearer, Fedotov told Shevchenko to hide. So she did. Fedotov pulled out his gun and a shootout with the thieves ensued. It remains unclear who fired the first shot. Reports from Peru have differed. Shevchenko believes the robbers shot first and Fedotov was "protecting" her and their friend.

Either way, Fedotov ended up being shot by one of the robbers. Shevchenko immediately rushed to his side when the gunfight was over. She helped him up, they went outside and got into a cab to the hospital. Waiting for an ambulance, she said, would have taken too long.

"I didn't think a lot," Shevchenko said. "When I saw Pavel on the floor, my instinct was I need to be there, near to help him. To do everything to help him."

Fedotov has trained Shevchenko in martial arts since she was 5 years old. Eight years ago, Shevchenko, Fedotov and Shevchenko's sister Antonina moved to Lima from Kyrgyzstan with the hopes of find new opportunities in Muay Thai. Fedotov is like a father to the sisters.

'The one thing I was thinking about was, Why right now? Why is this happening with me now?' - Valentina Shevchenko

"The one thing I was thinking about was, 'Why right now? Why is this happening with me now?'" Shevchenko said. "It's not a good moment for this, but it's done. So it's nothing to do. It should be worse, but it's a good thing that worse things didn't happen."

Fedotov is recovering in the hospital and Shevchenko believes he will be OK, though she said he hasn't had much movement. She is still holding out hope that he will be in her corner -- where he always is -- for her main event fight with Holly Holm at UFC on FOX 20 on July 23 in Chicago.

"I hope he will," Shevchenko said. "We will be very careful with him. I hope he will recover before the date, because it's important for me to have him in my corner."

Shevchenko has left Lima and is now training in a location that she would rather not disclose. She doesn't want any more attention -- just to focus on what is the biggest fight of her life again the former UFC champion.

Though Shevchenko has departed from Peru for the time being, she still plans on carrying the country's banner next month against Holm.

"We are still representing Peru and I will do it, because I really love this country," Shevchenko said. "It's a beautiful country. I lived here for eight years and it never happened to me something like that. It doesn't make sense for one of these things that I will change my opinion about the whole country. I know what could have happened, but I still have good feelings for this country."

Shevchenko, 28, is a multiple time Muay Thai world champion, with three victories on her record against UFC women's strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Holm, meanwhile, is a former three-division boxing champion. Shevchenko is expecting an entertaining striking display.

"I'm really calm this moment, because I know exactly what I need to do," Shevchenko said. "I know what I need to do to win the fight. I know how to prepare myself. So I'm in a very good situation right now."

Lima. Peru. 17 may 2016

A photo posted by Pavel Fedotov (@pavelfedotov_procoach) on

Shevchenko said she learned something from her unanimous decision loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 196 in March. She is still developing tactics in MMA after a career mostly in Muay Thai. Nunes, with the victory, is now fighting Miesha Tate for the UFC women's bantamweight title at UFC 200 on July 9.

"[Nunes] won not because she was stronger," Shevchenko said. "It was like I gave her this opportunity. I promise that nobody will have this opportunity again, because I know what I should do. I see clear. I know exactly what tactic I should have, especially for MMA fights. But everything happens for something. I'm glad that I will have a fight with Holly in the main event on the 23rd of July and I'm sure I'll still have my opportunity to fight for the title."

Shevchenko (12-2) is confident now. She's no longer shaken up from the frightening incident late in May. Everything, she said, is on track. The distractions have ceased and she plans on being ready to go next month.

"For a few days, I couldn't train," Shevchenko said. "I couldn't do many things. It was partly a distraction from training camp. But it's good that we still have enough time to recuperate from all this and now I'm ready to do my training again. I feel good. I'm recovered mentally and physically. All aspects. I'm sure that I will pass through all these things and I will give the best of me to the fight."

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