UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko handed a robust check from Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 on Saturday in Las Vegas. Although Maia was robust and pressed Shevchenko, the champion proved why she is taken into account one fo the highest fighters on the planet.
Shevchenko has been stellar throughout her UFC tenure. Although she misplaced one time – to Liz Carmouche – previous to entering into the Octagon, the one fighter to whom she has misplaced below the UFC banner has been Amanda Nunes, who’s extensively thought to be one of many best fighters of all time.
Shevchenko seemed sharp along with her fingers early, however surprisingly clinched and tossed Maia to her again within the opening minute of the opening spherical. Maia did a very good job of making an attempt to tie up Shevchenko’s arms, however couldn’t cease the peppering punches and punishing elbows. She did, nevertheless, handle to flee with little harm.
Shevchenko clinched and took Maia to the canvas as quickly as spherical two opened, however the challenger instantly escaped to her toes and put Shevchenko up in opposition to the fence. Shevchenko tried to combat her method out, however Maia ultimately put her on the canvas.
Spherical two was a robust body for Maia, who labored from inside Shevchenko’s half guard and full guard for the rest fo the spherical, controlling place on the champion.
Having spent a lot of the second body on her again, Shevchenko went head searching in spherical three. She landed a number of sharp photographs within the early moments of the body earlier than Maia briefly put her again to the fence.
Shevchenko escaped and went again to her sharp taking pictures, touchdown a head kick adopted a short while later with a blistering punch mixture. Having stung Maia, Shevchenko clinched and once more dragged her to the canvas.
The champion went to work from half guard, however Maia used her jiu-jitsu abilities to work the combat again to standing, and as soon as once more pinned Shevchenko to the fence.
Within the remaining 10 seconds of spherical three, Shevchenko scored one other takedown, doubtless doing sufficient to safe the spherical. Heading into the fourth body, it appeared that Shevchenko was doubtless up 29-28 on the scorecards.
Blood dripping from the noses of each ladies, Shevchenko stung early with a tough left hand to open the fourth spherical. Discovering her distance, Shevchenko landed a number of extra photographs within the first two minutes of the spherical.
Maia answered with a strong proper hand, however Shevchenko clinched and put Maia on her again once more, rapidly pinning her in opposition to the fence. Shevchenko put her fist in Maia’s face and planted shoulder punches till she may advance to extra of a prime place, though nonetheless in Maia’s half guard.
It was one other sturdy spherical for Shevchenko, who had Maia needing a end to win the combat heading into the ultimate spherical.
Shevchenko caught Maia with a jab, however missed with a spinning backfist, discovering her again up in opposition to the fence. She rapidly reversed and escaped, nevertheless, as soon as once more sticking her jab in Maia’s face.
Maia powered ahead, solely to face a Shevchenko blitz of punches. Weathering the storm, Maia clinched and pressed Shevchenko into the fence. The champ escaped once more, hurting Maia with one other punch mixture.
Holding her floor, Maia’s face was lined with blood, as Shevchenko continued to fireside along with her arsenal of punches and kicks. Maia wasn’t backing down, however didn’t have a solution for Shevchenko’s stellar placing.
Maia snuck within the occasional energy shot, however wore proof of Shevchenko’s punches and elbows on her face.
The judges noticed the combat unanimously, 49-46 on all three scorecards, for the champ. The victory was Shevchenko’s fourth UFC flyweight title protection, retaining her within the rarified air as one of many best fighters on the planet.
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“I’m glad it went 5 rounds. After an extended layoff, I wanted to really feel the spirit of the combat,” Shevchenko mentioned after the combat, acknowledging that she had suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) damage earlier within the yr that required surgical procedure.
“It was MCL. It was surgical procedure. So we simply took just a little bit further months to ensure (it was totally healed).”
With the victory over Maia, Shevchenko may very well be on track to subsequent defend her belt in opposition to Jessica Andrade, who just lately supplanted Kaitlyn Chookagian because the No. 1 contender within the UFC ladies’s flyweight division.