Shevchenko, who notched her sixth title defense with a dominant win over Lauren Murphy in the co-headliner, usually steers clear of controversy when she speaks about fighting. But after hearing ring card girls called “useless” by former UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, she felt she had to respond.
“Beautiful women is a decoration of any event, and I want people to know that, and no one has the right to say they are useless, because they are in the place where they have to be,” Shevchenko told reporters at the post-fight press conference for Saturday’s pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “They were here at the beginning, and you will come to any event, and you will see beautiful woman, and you, as a man, like everyone, enjoys it, right? It’s beautiful, right? This is decoration.
“That’s why this is my message: Beautiful women are a decoration of any event.”
Nurmagomedov was explaining why he wasn’t going to hire ring card girls for his promotion, Eagle Fighting Championships, when he made his controversial remarks.
“What is their function? I have a question,” he said. “You can show that it is the second round on the screen. ... I realize that is a history [with ring card girls]. History knows many mistakes. We read history to avoid mistakes of the past in the future.
“If we look in the history, it says they are useless. That is my personal opinion. [UFC President] Dana White maybe likes it. Maybe you do, too. But my name is not Dana. My name is Khabib.”
Nurmagomedov, a devout Muslim who’s frequently criticized art he finds offensive toward his religion and values, later explained his distaste for ring card girls had to do with his father, who in 2020 died of COVID-19.
“I feel uncomfortable with my father,” he said. “I am not against it. If you want, you can do it. But don’t impose it to me. Do it aside. There are the designated places for it. I think we must not mix all of it. This is my opinion.”
Nurmagomedov’s words certainly created a reaction, but they had no effect on the UFC’s practices. At UFC 266, the ring card girls were holding up the signs they’ve held since the beginning of the fight promotion. Meanwhile, Shevchenko handled her business in the octagon.