All Valentina Schevchenko wants is for the UFC to keep lining them up – so she can knock them down.
Saturday’s UFC 247 event in Houston saw Shevchenko dispose of another challenger in one-sided fashion, this time Katlyn Chookagian via third-round TKO. At no point during the bout was Shevchenko’s flyweight championship reign in danger, a situation that’s become a recurring theme in her fights.
After her third consecutive successful title defense, “Bullet” chose to respect the UFC’s flyweight contender rankings when asked who she might fight next.
“We just watched the rankings of flyweights with (UFC broadcaster) Laura Sanko, and it was like, after Katlyn and Jessica Eye, it is (Joanne) ‘JoJo’ Calderwood, it’s Jennifer Maia, and Roxanne Modafferi,” Shevchenko said at the UFC 247 post-event press conference. “These three girls, I think they are strong fighters, very good skills, and each one they have different style of fighting. I would love to fight anyone from them.”
All three challengers mentioned by Shevchenko bring impressive accolades to title talks. Calderwood is 3-1 since returning to flyweight, with wins over Andrea Lee, former KSW champion Ariane Lipski, and onetime WSOF strawweight title challenger Kalindra Faria. Modafferi has recent victories against Maycee Barber and Shevchenko’s sister Antonina, who were both unbeaten before running into the 16-year veteran. Maia is a former Invicta FC flyweight champion who’s twice defeated Modafferi.
When Maia’s issues with making weight were brought up—she missed the mark in her last two fights—Shevchenko speculated that the Brazilian would set herself straight if she had a championship opportunity.
“I think if it’s gonna be a matter of the title fight, she’s gonna take it more seriously, probably,” Shevchenko said.
Shevchenko has competed twice in every full calendar year she’s been on the UFC roster and indicated she’s eager to get back in the Octagon as soon as possible, joking that she would like to fight again “tomorrow.”
One other bout option brought up to Shevchenko is a frequent topic of inquiry: a trilogy with Amanda Nunes. The two fought twice at 135 pounds, with Nunes taking a unanimous decision in a March 2016 non-title bout and then earning a split call one year later in a title defense at UFC 215.
Given that Nunes is the only woman in the UFC to defeat Shevchenko, it’s no wonder she’s repeatedly brought up. Shevchenko agrees that they still have a score to settle, but she is in no hurry to bulk back up to 135 pounds.
“I started to fight in UFC in bantamweight, (and) it’s not my natural weight class,” Shevchenko said. “For example, my walk weight is 135, bantamweight. For 125, I’m not cutting at all, so it’s my perfect, natural weight class, and I’m so happy that the UFC has this weight class where I can feel natural. I can do everything what I’m doing right now. That’s why I just want to continue defending my belt, but I’m not discarding any opportunities in the future.
“As I say before the fight, this fight with Amanda, it’s something beyond what she wants, I want. It’s not there anymore. It’s just gonna happen sometime. I don’t know when. I’m not saying, okay, tomorrow – no, probably not. But it’s going to happen sometime, and when it happens I will be ready.”
With several flyweight challengers waiting in the wings, will Shevchenko wait for the No. 1 contender to emerge before taking a call from UFC matchmakers?
“If they gonna fight for one more fight, when will I be fighting?” Shevchenko said. “No, I want to fight.”