Talking to the media may be a chore for most fighters, but there are few better times to do it than after a big win. When the only thing they have to talk about is success. That’s where Valentina Shevchenko found herself on Saturday night, following her headkick KO win over Jessica Eye at UFC 238 to retain her flyweight title.
“I think I did everything that I wanted,” Shevchenko said, when asked about her performance. “I prepared very good for the fight. And, of course, I’m very happy to finish it this way—by KO. I think everything went good.”
“About this exact kick?” She added, when pressed about finish. “It’s about the exact moment. But, on my trainings, I train everything. Because, being an MMA fighter, I have to be able to use every single moment that you’re in the fight. And if I see the opportunity to make a KO? I can do it, because I have arms. And if I see an opportunity to do a submission, I will be able to do it because I was training for it. That’s why I think it’s very important to train everything.”
A wealth of time spent in the gym may have set up the opportunity to land the left high kick that sent Eye to the mat, but it also meant Shevchenko was almost too keyed in to even realize exactly how hurt Eye was at the time.
“At very very first moment, you cannot think about it,” Shevchenko admitted when asked about her concern for Eye, “because the fight is still going. And, while she was going to the floor? I still was thinking that, maybe... I didn’t know how deep it was. Only after the referee stopped the fight and I went to my corner, I saw that she was not getting up. And then I start to think. But, at the very very first moment, it’s difficult to think about it.”
“First of all, of course it’s a sport,” Shevchenko continued, when asked if seeing Eye knocked out like that was difficult. “It’s MMA, and we are training for this. If you are not doing this kind of KO? You will get this kind of KO. And no one wants to get it. That’s why we are training very hard, to be better than our opponents. And, of course, everybody who steps into the Octagon, they know what they can get inside there.”
The question then becomes, who gets to be the next woman at 125 to catch a bullet from Valentina Shevchenko. Katlyn Chookagian made her case earlier in the night, but it remains to be seen if that’s the direction UFC matchmakers will go.