Considering what Valentina Shevchenko went through during her camp ahead of UFC on Fox 20, it would have been understandable if the bantamweight had asked for a little more time to prepare for Holly Holm.
But she didn’t, and it was never really an option.
Shevchenko was uninjured after being caught in the crossfire of a shootout after three armed individuals allegedly robbed a restaurant in Lima, Peru in late May. Her coach, Pavel Fedotov, wasn’t as fortunate after he and another customer pulled out guns and opened fire on the robbers as they fled the scene. Fedotov was shot in the abdomen during the altercation and is still in the healing process.
Shevchenko, who credited her coach for risking his life to defend her, says he is recovering quite well.
“He is feeling much better,” she said during a recent conference call. “It’s lucky for me that he is recovering very good. Yes, he will be in my corner. It means a lot to me, so I’m happy that it’s in the past.
When the incident happened, the 28-year-old Krgyzstan native was in the middle of her preparations for Holm. The camp was temporarily derailed as Shevchenko chose to be beside her coach as he recovered in the hospital. Ultimately, it was Fedotov who provided the impetus for Shevchenko to renew her focus on Holm.
“When it all happened it was like a shock, a very hard shock because all that week I couldn’t train, I couldn’t think about anything,” she said. “I just spent all my time in the hospital by him. It was a difficult time for me, but even in this moment, my coach, Pavel, he said after a few days in the hospital, we need to go forward and focus on the fight. After maybe one week, 10 days, I was focusing just on my preparation.”
According to Shevchenko, it was never an option to pull out of Saturday’s headliner at the United Center in Chicago.
“I didn’t think we would cancel,” she said. “It was very clear for me.”
And that also goes for her fighting career in general. For the fighter called “Bullet,” dodging several of those for which she is named more than a month ago has only strengthened her resolve moving forward.
“I started training at 5 years old. So already I’ve been training martial arts for 20 years. So all my life, sometimes people ask me, ‘Can you imagine doing something different?’ I said no because this is my life, this is what I want to be.
“I’m very happy that my destiny is to be a fighter. This is what I really, really love.”