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Valentina Shevchenko reveals she competed with injury at UFC 275, but says fight was ‘exactly what I wanted’

Valentina Shevchenko never considered pulling out of UFC 275, but it turns out the reigning flyweight champion was at a physical disadvantage in her fight with Taila Santos.

Following her split decision win in the co-main event, Shevchenko addressed why she didn’t perform her typical dance to celebrate a victory, and that’s when she revealed details about an injury that plagued her in the days and weeks leading up to the card.

“Coming into the fight, I was injured,” Shevchenko said at the post-fight press conference. “My foot was injured. All week, fight week, UFC Performance Institute, physical therapists they were working on my foot to get it back into the best shape. The few kicks that I had like super strong, it injured my foot. That’s why I was willing to dance but we’re going to have to do an X-ray. I hope it’s nothing serious that could delay my return to the octagon but this is the reason why I didn’t dance.

“Considering pulling out of the fight? Never. Every time I have something, I try to deal with that first and actually I could not walk on my foot when I got this injury. I could not jump on it. But thankfully to the [physical therapists], they were able to get me back and I kind of felt OK. When you’re in the fight, you have all this adrenaline and you just kick no matter what and you kick and think what’s going to happen.”

In her seven title defenses at flyweight, Shevchenko had barely dropped any rounds ahead of her fight against Santos. But the Brazilian challenger put her in some bad positions, especially in the early going.

Despite the obstacles she faced, Shevchenko was actually happy with the result because she actually found someone to push her and in the end there was no doubt in her mind that she deserved the win.

“This is exactly what I wanted,” Shevchenko said. “Opponents who are not giving up from the first second, going to the end and in this kind of fight, you can really show what you’re made of. Your character, your mindset, you can kind of get what is yours — victory.

“No matter how hard, no matter how difficult. It’s like showing who you are. I’m happy.”

While Shevchenko admits judging in MMA can be unpredictable at times, she felt confident that her performance should earn the win on the scorecards.

“I worked until the last second of the fight to get my victory, to get my hands raised up,” Shevchenko said. “When it’s judges you never know but if you work out everything you have and leave your heart and soul in the fight, you will be proud of yourself no matter what.

“Nothing surprised me. I really didn’t have any position, even when she was on my back, I didn’t feel in trouble. Like oh my God, this is tight and you have to work on your character. No, there was not. More than that, she kind of was inactive. Even me being in that position, I was striking and I feel the power of the strikes and I felt how she reacted because it was hurting her. This is what counts the most in mixed martial arts. Damage.”

With the win, Shevchenko has now dispatched yet another contender at 125 pounds, and her options in the division are starting to look limited, which is why many believe a return to bantamweight could be coming sooner rather than later.

Considering Shevchenko already holds a win over current champion Julianna Peña as well as her past rivalry with Amanda Nunes, either fight could be intriguing although she’s not closing the door on flyweight just yet.

“I have to mention, July we have in flyweight we have an amazing fight between two very strong fighters. It’s Lauren Murphy and Miesha Tate,” Shevchenko acknowledged. “It’s going to be an amazing fight. If Lauren Murphy gets a victory, a rematch maybe but not that soon. Miesha Tate wins the fight, I think this is what fans are going to love to see and end of the year, pay-per-view, main event, I think it’s going to be great.

“But still another option is Julianna and Amanda in bantamweight. Once it’s going to be more towards finalizing, I will work to building my body a little bit heavier, just a little bit so not to lose the speed. A lot of options for me, just to choose which one.”

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