However, it’s hard to imagine fans clamoring for a third meeting between the two flyweights after Saturday’s rematch resulted in 25 mostly uneventful minutes of competition that were decidedly in favor of Shevchenko, the defending UFC champion.
Carmouche went five rounds with the dangerous Shevchenko, but on more than one occasion the crowd at Antel Arena in Montevideo booed the low-octane encounter. According to Carmouche, their styles simply didn’t mesh and a lot of that had to do with the fact that she expected “Bullet” to bring a lot more heat.
“No, I absolutely anticipated that she would be a lot more aggressive and less hesitant,” Carmouche said at the evening’s post-fight press conference when asked if Shevchenko performed as expected. “I think that because of the style that I was doing was throwing her off, but I thought that she’d be much more resilient in it and be more aggressive off of that instead of being more cautious and hesitant.”
“I think that we both had a game plan,” Carmouche continued. “I don’t think that there’s blame to be had. I think that I was throwing her off of her style, but I mean, to her I didn’t execute and get the win either. So I think it was both of our parts that negated our ability to do what either of us anticipated doing.”
In their first fight back in September 2010, the outcome tilted in Carmouche’s favor after she opened up a cut on Shevchenko, resulting in a second-round doctor stoppage. This time, Carmouche failed to win a single round on the judges scorecards, but she took some solace in the fact that she went the distance with Shevchenko in a five-round fight.
“There are a lot of things I did correctly. I mean, my coaches, I felt the healthiest I’ve ever felt in a fight, it went to the fifth round, I wasn’t tired at all. And I think that a lot of people anticipated that I wouldn’t be able to go to a fifth round and like I’ve told many times, I always train to do five rounds. I don’t train to do three rounds, I over-train to be prepared for a moment like today. And so I didn’t feel tired at all.
“And I felt good and I felt like everything my coaches had done, everything my teammates had done helped me for tonight, I just felt like tonight she had a better game plan and executed hers better than mine.”
Carmouche conceded that she could have pushed the pace more in the championship rounds after the first three frames saw her failing to establish much in the way of significant strikes on the stat sheet. She added that she hopes to book a third fight in 2019, which has already been a relatively busy campaign for Carmouche given that she logged just one fight a year from 2014-2018.
Whether that activity could signal the start of another run to the title, the 35-year-old Carmouche was uncertain.
“Of course that’s always in the back of my mind,” Carmouche said. “Even after the first time I fought [for the bantamweight title against Ronda Rousey at UFC 157] I wondered if I’d have another opportunity to fight again. And even after this one, I just hope that I can make all the efforts needed and just keep making the improvements that I have been and anticipate another championship opportunity.”
And if Carmouche is able to become No. 1 contender again, she’d definitely like that championship opportunity to be against Shevchenko.
“Absolutely, especially after this evening,” Carmouche said. “I think after the first fight there were so many things that when we first fought, I was still new to fighting, she had tons of experience. But after seeing her hesitance and her caution tonight and her not execute her usual game plan and not have that cutthroat killer instinct that everybody knows, but actually be hesitant?
“That’s not something we’ve seen her do before, so I’d absolutely do it again and do things differently and actually take that belt from her.”