BELEM, Brazil — Valentina Shevchenko is already seen by many pundits and fans as a future flyweight title contender, even before making her 125-pound debut in the UFC. But Priscila Cachoeira, Shevchenko’s first opponent in the division, wants to ruin those plans.
The undefeated Brazilian makes her Octagon debut against Shevchenko at UFC’s first trip to Belem on Feb. 3, and she didn’t anticipate being matched up against “Bullet” so quickly after pulling out of a December bout with Lauren Murphy due to visa issues.
”I wasn’t expecting to face one of the top fighters in the UFC right away, but I like the idea,” Cachoeira told MMA Fighting. “When I was asked if I would take the fight, I said absolutely. I’m fearless, and I have nothing to lose.”
Cachoeira is 8-0 in MMA with four stoppage victories, but no one really expects her to replicate that success against the woman that gave Amanda Nunes her toughest test as bantamweight champion back in September. But Cachoeira, who think Shevchenko should’ve beaten Nunes at UFC 215, wants to prove her doubters wrong.
”I will shock the world with a win. I will even shock Dana White and the UFC crew,” Cachoeira said. “I just got in the UFC and I’m going all the way to the top right away. I have nothing to lose with this fight, and I will definitely win. I have what it takes to defeat Valentina.”
A teammate of Jessica Andrade at Parana Vale Tudo, Cachoeira says her strategy changed a bit after switching opponents from Murphy to Shevchenko, but she won’t tip her hand about what those adjustments could be.
”Are you publishing this before or after the fight?” she said, laughing. “Just write that you will find out Saturday.”
Cachoeira competed in a few 125-pound bouts early in her career, but hasn’t fought at flyweight in awhile. Still, “Pedrita” believes she will carry an advantage into Belem because Shevchenko isn’t used to the local weather, and she expects her opponent to feel the weight cut.
”She’s fighting at this weight class for the first time in the UFC, so she might feel it,” Cachoeira said. “I’ve made this weight three times before and I’m used to it, but it won’t be easy. I’m also used to fighting at 135, so going to 125 bring a little discomfort as well.”
The Brazilian newcomer predicts that she will knock Shevchenko out on Saturday night — “Absolutely, yes,” she guarantees — but she doesn’t expect that such an impressive feat would immediately translate into a UFC title shot.
”I will ask for the belt if I win, but I don’t believe they will give it to me right away,” she said. “If they do, great, but I think that (after) winning one more, a title shot is next. They just opened the division and are testing the girls, so a title shot might come faster than in other divisions.”
Nicco Montano is the UFC’s first women’s flyweight champion after winning the 26th season of The Ultimate Fighter, having defeated veteran Roxanne Modafferi in the season finale in December, but “Pedrita” sees Montano as the new Carla Esparza, who won the UFC inaugural strawweight strap through the reality show but never successfully defended the title.
”I have what it takes to hold this belt,” Cachoeira said. “Nicco won’t stay champion too long because I’m coming to take the belt from her, and there are other girls that are capable of taking the belt away from her.”