There was the time in May when Nunes put her first on Shevchenko’s face and shoved it. There were the barbs Shevchenko fired at Nunes when Nunes withdrew from what was supposed to be their fight at UFC 213 on the day of the event due to sinus issues. It has been a pretty heated rivalry dating all the way back to the the first time they fought at UFC 196 in March 2016.
When Nunes and Shevchenko were set to be face to face for the final time prior to the fight, Nunes said she just wanted to shut all the talk off. The UFC women’s bantamweight champion wore headphones at weigh-ins Friday so she didn’t have to hear what Shevchenko was saying.
“I don’t want to hear this girl or anything,” Nunes said at the UFC 215 post-fight press conference Saturday night in Edmonton, Alberta. “I just want this girl to shut up and get her life together and do the thing.”
Nunes and Shevchenko fought all five rounds Saturday night in the main event of UFC 215. The contest was razor close, but Nunes walked away as the winner by split decision, keeping her belt.
The two are not going to be friends any time soon — Shevchenko vehemently disagrees with the judges and wants a rematch — but for now the rivalry will be put on hold.
“I don’t have anything personal against Valentina, but I think she changed a lot, her personality,” Nunes said. “In one interview, she says something and the other one she goes completely the other way. For this fight, she started to be a little bit humble. I don’t understand — it was a mess.”
Nunes (15-4) said she would be willing to grant Shevchenko a rematch, but it'll be up to the UFC. The Brazilian said she’ll probably be taking the rest of the year off to have sinus surgery, to repair the issues that have plagued her for the duration of her career — and cost her that UFC 213 fight with Shevchenko in July.
Nunes, 29, might have beaten Shevchenko in the three-round, non-title bout last year and took home the victory Saturday night, but there still feels like there is unfinished business between perhaps the best two 135-pound female fighters in the world. Nunes said it’s not personal, though.
“We don’t need to hate each other,” Nunes said. “I don’t hate her. This is a job. I don’t want to say anything to her. It was awesome. She was pretty tough. I know she’s gonna go back and beat a lot of girls in this division. Her style is very hard to figure out. That’s why I had to train and be smart. If you don’t know, you’ll be getting lost.”
At the end of the fight, the two seemed to exchange heated words while Nunes was on top of Shevchenko. There was a small tussle and apparent tension. Nunes said it wasn’t really anything, though she did say something to Shevchenko. What exactly that was, she isn’t saying.
“I don’t say anything bad,” Nunes said. “I know if we did that, we would have been, like for the fans, going crazy.”