Valentina Shevchenko proved yet again that she has no equal inside the Octagon at flyweight, as she defended her title in spectacular fashion.
Shevchenko (19-3) systematically broke down challenger Katlyn Chookagian in the co-main event of UFC 247 in Houston Saturday night and put the American away in the third round. “Bullet” used her superb muay Thai to land blistering punches and crippling leg kicks, but the Kyrgyzstani finished her foe after tossing her to the canvas.
Shevchenko scored one of her multiple takedowns early in the third after peppering her with strikes and immediately locked Chookagian in a crucifix from on top. From there, the Peru resident unloaded elbows and punches to the face until referee Jacob Montalvo had no choice but to intervene, ending the championship battle just 63 seconds into the round.
Shevchenko figured the fight would be tough, but once she felt Chookagian out, “Bullet” said she knew the challenger wouldn’t survive.
“In the first round, I knew that it would probably go five rounds and I didn’t want to rush things,” she said. “I wanted to feel her, because every time is interesting. Before the fight you hear so many things from your opponent: that she is better standing up, she is better somewhere else. So, I wanted to feel how good she was besides just words. I started showing that no, you are not better in the distance; you are thinking that maybe you have longer arms and legs, but it doesn’t help you. And then I started to put more and more pressure. In the end of the first round, I cut her and since that, I knew that it wouldn’t last the five rounds. I knew I had to finish it.”
Aside from two decision losses to current bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, nobody has even been overly competitive with Shevchenko inside the Octagon. She’s won five straight and seven of nine overall, with those two losses coming against “Lioness.” Every woman the UFC has thrown to her, Shevchenko has either earned a finish or a lopsided decision victory. At the moment, Shevchenko believes one flyweight contender stands above the field for the next title shot, although she admits that could change in the coming weeks.
“If we are speaking of flyweight, I don’t know who my next opponent will be, but probably Jojo Calderwood, because, to me, she looks like the closest one to this opportunity, but let’s see… Probably we will have some unexpected, brilliant fight and some other opponent will rise,” Shevchenko said.
Considering how dominant Shevchenko is at 125 pounds, it would seem that more difficult tests could await with a return to the bantamweight division. The queen of the flyweights said her primary focus is remaining where she is and continuing to wipe out the division.
“Right now I’m focused on flyweight, but as I have been saying, I’m open for anything,” she said. “When the time is right for any specific fight, I’ll be ready, but right now I’m thinking of flyweight.”