The newly crowned queen of the women’s flyweight division sounds like she’s looking for a busy title reign as champion. Valentina Shevchenko bested former Muay Thai rival – and former dominant UFC strawweight champion – Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 this past weekend in Toronto to claim the promotion’s vacant 125 lb title belt.
However, as a new division without a wealth of other notable top contenders in it, Shevchenko doesn’t exactly have a clear big fight on the horizon. That doesn’t appear to bother her, though. The Kyrgyszstani-born fighter – who now lives and trains out of Peru – spoke to the MMA Hour recently, where she made it clear that she’s focused on defending her belt and it doesn’t matter who she defends against.
“I tell everyone that I am real fighter and I will fight everyone,” Shevchenko said when asked about the division’s challengers. “It doesn’t matter who and it doesn’t matter how, it doesn’t matter where. I’m ready.”
And that kind of attitude is also what sounds as though it will be keeping her at flyweight for the foreseeable future. Even with a score to settle still at 135 lbs with Amanda Nunes.
“Like I said before, and like I said right after the fight, yes of course we have unfinished business with Amanda,” Shevchenko admitted. “I think this fight will happen, because I never lost our last fight. And everybody knows it. But, for now, I see me fighting in 125, defend my belt as much times as I can, and then we will see what will happen. Right now, all my concentration will go to 125.”
While Shevchenko may have been unhappy with the judging of her 2017 rematch against Nunes, which scuppered her immediate title hopes at bantamweight, she says the setbacks never left her in any doubt that she’d be holding a UFC title belt eventually.
“Not one time. I never got frustrated, I never was in doubt,” Shevchenko said of her losses to Nunes. “I never was broken, or something like this. I’m a very strong person, I have strong character. If something doesn’t go my way? Okay, I will wait, I will prepare me better, and I will comeback and take what is mine.”
That leaves top ranked fighters Jessica Eye and Nicco Montano most likely as next contenders for the flyweight title. Eye especially made her case with a win over Katlyn Chookagian on the UFC 231 undercard. If Montano isn’t recovered from the health troubles that saw her sidelined for all of 2017, Eye may be the lone woman in position to fight for the belt.