Valentina Shevchenko is arguably the UFC’s most dominant champion, but UFC president Dana White warns not to underestimate her next challenger.
On Saturday, Shevchenko goes for the seventh straight defense of her flyweight title when she faces Taila Santos in the co-main event of UFC 275 in Kallang, Singapore. Betting sites have installed the defending champion as a heavy favorite (the current line on DraftKings Sportsbook has Shevchenko at -630) and few are giving the relatively unknown Santos a chance.
White believes Santos is a more of a live underdog than most are predicting.
“Valentina’s, like, a 6-to-1 favorite,” White said during an online fan Q&A. “That’s insane. Listen, we all love Valentina, and Valentina’s incredible and badass, but this is not a 6-to-1 fight.”
Shevchenko is currently No. 1 in both the MMA Fighting Global Rankings and the MMA Fighting Pound-for-Pound Rankings. During her run atop the 125-pound division, Shevchenko has rarely been threatened. She also holds notable wins over current bantamweight champion Julianna Pena and former bantamweight champion Holly Holm.
Should Shevchenko again prevail on Saturday, White sees it as a testament to her talents and not any sort of indictment of Santos’ credentials.
“The Valentina Shevchenko-Santos fight is one of those fights, you know, Valentina is one of the greatest female fighters of all-time,” White said. “The problem with this fight is I don’t think people realize how good Santos really is. This woman has knocked out 10 other women. She’s got 13 finishes, 10 of them are knockouts.
“She’s 19-1 and this is a very dangerous fight for Valentina. If Valentina buzzsaws through her like she has everybody else, holy s***, I don’t even know what to say.”