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Valentina Shevchenko blasts 10-8 scorecard that cost her title at Noche UFC: ‘Completely unfair’

Valentina Shevchenko believes she should be celebrating her second reign as flyweight champion, but instead her night at Noche UFC ended with a controversial split draw for her rematch against Alexa Grasso.

The back-and-forth five-round war rounds saw both fighters win multiple rounds on all three scorecards. But ultimately it was judge Mike Bell that handed Grasso a 10-8 in the fifth round that made all the difference, with his card totaling 47-47.

With the other two judges split at 48-47 — one for Grasso and the other for Shevchenko — the result ended in a split draw and Shevchenko was dejected by the whole ordeal.

“I think three rounds I won, two rounds maybe was her,” Shevchenko said at the Noche UFC post-fight press conference. “But I feel the 10-8 in the fifth round, it’s completely unfair.”

The fifth round began with Shevchenko in control on the feet and it appeared she was cruising towards a unanimous decision to reclaim the title she lost to Grasso in March.

However, an ill-fated takedown attempt from Shevchenko failed, and she ended up with Grasso on her back and Shevchenko stuck fighting off a rear-naked choke submission, which mirrored how their first encounter ended back in March. This time, Shevchenko survived and she was more than confident that the win was hers.

Even if Grasso won the fifth round, Shevchenko can’t explain how a 10-8 scorecard was justified, which is why she believes the occasion for Noche UFC may have played a part.

“Unfortunately, I think this event because it’s Mexican Independence Day, that’s why it affected the decision of the judge to give 10-8 in the fifth round,” Shevchenko said. “From my experience, 10-8, it’s when one fighter completely cannot do nothing. It’s like running around, looking for an escape from the octagon. It’s like miserable.

“But in the fifth round, it was like four minutes or however many minutes standing up and she didn’t land one punch. She could only take the back position in the last minute, minute and a half. I don’t remember now, but even there, it was not damage. It was not [enough] damage to succeed with this 10-8.”

The scoring criteria for judges to hand out a 10-8 round has changed in recent years. Here is the current verbiage adopted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission: “In determining whether to score a round as a 10-8 round, a judge shall evaluate the three factors of impact, dominance and duration. If the judge assesses that two of the three factors are present, the judge shall seriously consider whether to score the round as a 10-8 round. If all three factors are present, the judge shall score the round as a 10-8 round.”

Shevchenko obviously disagreed with Bell’s assessment of the round as a 10-8, because despite Grasso’s best attempts to finish the fight, she was only able to take over in the closing moments after losing the majority of the five-minute session.

“A 10-8, it’s kind of like not what it was in the fifth round,” Shevchenko said. “I feel to give a 10-8 you have to be very sure that it is 10-8. It was not our case. It’s not even close to 10-8.

“I hope it’s going to change, but I know many fighters go through the same frustration when it’s kind of like that way but you cannot do nothing. The official decision, it’s the official decision. It’s a draw. It’s not a loss, but in my case, it’s not a victory.”

In a perfect world, Shevchenko would love to hear Bell explain his decision to score the fifth round as a 10-8, although that is unlikely to happen.

“It would be really nice to see,” Shevchenko said. “Because we as fighters, we fight. We fight and all of you see it, it’s an open to the public thing, it’s there for everybody to see. As far as the scoring, they score it and you don’t see it. It’s a private thing. So yeah, I would actually like that to happen, some sort of explanation.”

With a split draw as the result, Shevchenko leaves unfulfilled, but she’s also going to need time to heal after revealing that she suffered a broken thumb in the first round.

According to Shevchenko, as much as the injury could have changed the course of the fight, she has no intention of stopping or giving Grasso a clue that she was compromised.

“I broke my thumb in the first round and it’s fractured now,” Shevchenko said. “I felt it affecting my striking but at the same time, I felt if I would stop, it’s going to be very frustrating for the whole fans here this night because they were waiting for this fight, they want to see the fight and if I stop in the first round and say I cannot continue, I feel like it’s going to be against my own personal rules.

“That’s why I continue fight. I continued fight with my whole heart. I think I did everything to secure the victory.”

The broken thumb will also play a part in what comes next for Shevchenko.

Ideally, Shevchenko would face Grasso for a third time to hopefully settle their rivalry once and for all, but the former UFC flyweight champion won’t make any decisions until she’s healthy enough to compete again.

“I don’t want to rush,” Shevchenko said. “I don’t want to say something and tomorrow I will change my mind. First of all, I want to see how long it’s going [to take my thumb] to heal, because this is most important. My next fight, when it happens, I want to perform the best way what I can. I don’t want to perform at 50 percent. I want it 100 [percent].

“That’s why right now, I don’t know what is going to be next, who is going to be next, but I’m here. With this performance tonight, I showed I have much more forward to go.”

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