While her rival Amanda Nunes has garnered praise as the best female fighter of all time, UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko continues to make a case for best pound-for-pound in the world today.
Reborn at 125 pounds following a disputed 2017 loss to Nunes in their bantamweight title rematch, Shevchenko defended her women’s flyweight title on Saturday in violent fashion at UFC 238 in Chicago. Shevchenko (17-3), who captured the division’s vacant title in December, made her first defense by administering one of the most violent knockout finishes in recent memory. A native of Kyrgyzstan, Shevchenko finished Jessica Eye via head-kick knockout at 26 seconds of Round 2 in the co-main event inside United Center.
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Not only did Eye (14-7, 1 NC) catch Shevchenko’s left shin flush on her forehead, the back of Eye’s head bounced on the canvas as she fell back and was knocked out cold. Eye remained unconscious for several minutes as Shevchenko looked on with concern before applauding Eye’s return to her feet after waking up.
“This is what we have to have in this kind of sport, to be healthy,” Shevchenko said. “Thank you, Jessica, for a courageous performance.”
Shevchenko, 31, set up the high kick early in the fight when she opened Round 1 with a trio of hard body kicks that landed with a pop. She proceeded to twice take Eye down with ease while controlling the entire round. Early in Round 2, Shevchenko landed one more body kick which brought Eye’s defense down just seconds later.
“In this first round, I felt that a kick to the body went through and she was a little bit broke,” Shevchenko said. “That’s how I knew it would work and as the second round continued, I knew I could land it.
“I was ready for a hard, brutal fight. That’s why I was prepared to do my best and show my skills. Like I said before, 125 is my natural weight class and I am happy to be here and that is where I want to be.”
The loss for Eye, 32, snaps a three-fight win streak since moving down to her natural weight of 125 pounds after UFC created the new division. She had previously toiled as an undersized bantamweight to varied success.
Shevchenko, who said during fight week she would consider moving back up to bantamweight for a trilogy fight against Nunes, was excited after the fight about the improved depth at flyweight.
“All [in the top 10] is very strong, and I am happy to fight all of them because 125 is the future of MMA in this sport,” Shevchenko said. “Believe me.”