Antonina Shevchenko officially joined her sister in the UFC win column Friday.
With younger sibling Valentina being vocal in her corner, Shevchenko utilized her strong Muay Thai and kickboxing skills to win a three-round striking battle with Ji Yeon Kim in a catchweight bout against Ji Yeon Kim at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale in Las Vegas. Kim missed weight, coming in at 130.5 pounds on Friday.
All three judges scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Shevchenko, who was making her UFC debut after winning a contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Shevchenko used the early stages of round one mostly as a feeling-out process, looking to counter the aggressive Kim. A considerable underdog, Kim showed off her trademark resilience, breaking Shevchenko’s early attempts to lock in a Thai clinch and had Shevchenko backing up after a slip. However, her aggression began to get the better of her after Shevchenko landed a snapping front kick right to the face.
The counters of Shevchenko began to land with greater consistency at the end of round one and that carried over into round two. Eventually, Shevchenko was beating Kim to the punch in almost every exchange. The final frame saw Shevchenko working from top control for most of it after pushing Kim down off of a missed kick.
Shevchenko did catch a break in round three, landing an illegal knee on a grounded Kim that prompted referee Yves Lavigne to issue a warning, but not a point deduction. In the end, it wouldn’t have had a major impact on the decision.
“It feels amazing, here fighting in Las Vegas, my favorite place in the world,” Shevchenko said in her post-fight interview. “We had a very hard training camp for this fight, together with my sister Valentina, so I already had mine and Valentina, I’m very excited for her fight [Dec. 8] in Toronto.”
Now 1-0 in the UFC, Shevchenko improved to 7-0 in her pro MMA career, while dropping Kim to an even 2-2 inside the Octagon.
“She’s a very good boxer, very good boxing technique,” Shevchenko said of Kim. “But I’m better.”