Valentina Shevchenko didn’t appear to have any shortage of motivation for her fifth UFC title defense.
The reigning flyweight queen dominated challenger Jessica Andrade on Saturday at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Fla., using her outstanding wrestling to throw Andrade to the canvas repeatedly before finishing with ground-and-pound from the crucifix position in round two. Shevchenko’s assault included a few nasty elbows that prompted the stoppage.
At the evening’s post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White was effusive in his praise for Shevchenko, going as far as to say that it looked like Shevchenko was fighting with a chip on her shoulder.
“It’s almost like—tell me if this is how you felt tonight when she was fighting—like she was pissed,” White said. “Like, she was mad that anybody could—I love this fight, because I knew Jessica Andrade was gonna show something that she hasn’t seen yet. She was gonna be in her face, she was gonna do this, she was gonna do that. And [Shevchenko] was like a f*cking demon tonight. Pissed off that anybody believed that that was possible and she looked incredible. One of the best performances of her career.”
White’s comments are supported by Shevchenko’s own words following her win. During her in-cage interview, Shevchenko told Joe Rogan what she thought of the rest of the 125-pound division targeting her.
Don't even try. There are no weaknesses... #UFC261 pic.twitter.com/it1d2kcFnJ— UFC (@ufc) April 25, 2021
“While my opponents try to figure out what is the weakness of mine,” Shevchenko said. “Don’t waste your time. There is [none].”
Shevchenko also said she is welcoming all comers and though there is a lineup of fresh challengers awaiting her in her division, few would be expected to actually have a chance of beating her. Shevchenko was a -450 favorite (per Tapology) heading into her fight with Andrade, and even those heavy odds were considered close relative to Shevchenko’s other title defenses.
In 12 UFC appearances, Shevchenko is unbeaten at flyweight and her two losses both came at 135 pounds against bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. Nunes holds two decision victories over Shevchenko, but with Shevchenko running through the 125-pound division, fans have clamored for a third meeting between the two pound-for-pound greats.
White was asked if he’d like to see that fight happen once more or if Shevchenko and Nunes are better off carving out their own legacies independent of one another from now on.
“Their own legacies,” White said. “Listen, they fought a couple of times. People can think whatever they want. There’s always somebody else coming up, there’s always a new contender, and it’s not Valentina’s fault that she’s one of the all-time baddest women on the planet.
“So making her move up to 135 pounds doesn’t make sense. They did it twice. Listen, if the both come to me and they both want to do it then whatever. I’ll make it happen, but it’s not something I’m thinking about.”