For the first time in quite a while, UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko showed some vulnerability in a fight. A few times during her championship bout with Taila Santos at UFC 274, “Bullet” wasn’t the same dominant force as she had been in previous title fights.
One of the many interested observers of the said matchup is former bantamweight champion, Miesha Tate. And in her Monday appearance on The MMA Hour, “Cupcake” says she’d already seen some chinks in the champ’s armor during the Jennifer Maia fight at UFC 255 in 2020.
“When I saw Jennifer Maia get on top position, which was actually an error of Valentina’s... She was trying to get a takedown and slipped and ended on bottom. It also happened in the fight with Santos,” Tate told Ariel Helwani.
“I just remember seeing Jennifer Maia hold her down and at that time, I never saw myself fighting at 125, so it didn’t really matter to me. But now, I watch that fight, I was absolutely salivating. Then I see Taila Santos go out there and do what I…
“It was almost frustrating to see because for me, selfishly, I wanted to be the first one to say, like, ‘I knew this could be done.’ But now, people kind of see it.”
Seeing how everything played out two years ago, Tate is now more confident about her chances against Shevchenko.
“I didn’t want Valentina to look any less indestructible. I wanted her to stay where everybody thought she was so unbeatable because I already knew I could do that,” she said.
“For me, it’s kind of like, ah, it’s been shown. “Now, people are going to believe in me more to be able to do it. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be the massive underdog. I wanted everybody to count me out.
“I wanted nobody to think Miesha Tate, five years retired, two kids, coming back 2-1 in the UFC, would be able to take out Valentina Shevchenko. But now, I think people can see a little bit of what I’ve been saying holds some water. I don’t know if that benefits me, but either way, the game plan hasn’t changed.”
Shevchenko did mention Tate’s name during the post-fight scrum, and this was the latter’s response:
“I know that she wants to fight me – it’s no secret,” she said. “I feel like everybody wants to fight me. I’m the uncrowned queen. I’ve got the target on my back almost as big as any champion.
“Everybody wants to take out the ‘Cupcake.’ But we’re going to get it done on July 2, and I think Valentina and I will lock horns. That’s the plan.”
The 35-year-old Tate (19-8) will make her flyweight debut against Lauren Murphy at UFC 276 on July 2nd.