Valentina Shevchenko doesn’t have time to talk about being “exposed” by Taila Santos.
At UFC 275, Shevchenko had one of the toughest fights of his career, narrowly edging out a split decision win over Santos. In the aftermath, a number of flyweight contenders including Maycee Barber and Casey O’Neill suggested that Santos had revealed a plan to beat Shevchenko and that they would be the ones to ultimately unseat the champion. But “Bullet” pays no attention to them.
“Talkers like Casey [O’Neil] and Maycee Barber, don’t feed them, just let them say bad things about somebody because I think that’s their energy,” Shevchenko said Wednesday on MMA hour. “If they don’t talk about something bad or something ugly, they feel sad in life. That’s why I feel like they felt they had to say something. For example, Maycee just came back from her injury, Casey, she doesn’t have much to do just to talk because she’s injured.
“I think it’s the same as before. They can think whatever they want, but it’s one thing to pretend they know and another thing to be inside the octagon and try it and do it and do it. [real]. Yes they can work on their stuff but it will never work because every time I will find a way to win and keep winning and defending my flyweight Valentina Shevchenko dismisses claims she was exposed by Taila Santos: ‘It’s one thing to pretend they know’ and another to ‘do it’. Because you see it, but before you feel it, you never know.
Barber and O’Neill are far from the only ones who believe the Santos fight revealed weakness in the champ, as a number of fighters believe Santos was robbed of the decision. But the champion believes her performance revealed her strength, not a weakness.
“It was a good fight. Taila, she’s a good opponent, a strong opponent,” Shevchenko said. “I’m glad it was a tough fight, I’m glad I was able to prove that no matter what that I can overcome, any type of situation. It’s not just about technique, it’s about mental play, it’s about tenacity. No matter what and how, you always have to find a way to win the fight. It’s my state of mind and I’m very happy to have been able to show it.
One of the big sticking points with the fight is an accidental headbutt that happened in the fourth round and broke Santos’ orbital bone.
Some pundits, like Daniel Cormier, have suggested that Shevchenko only managed to retain his title following the hit, which only fueled the criticism that “Bullet” now faces. But the champion disputes that as the determining factor in her victory.
“I don’t think it was something that affected her very much,” Shevchenko said. “I think a combination of every punch I threw was affecting, because I saw the clash of heads on replay and it was accidental. It could go either way. It might affect him, it might affect me. You never know in combat because no one wears a helmet. But there was nothing too big or too hard. On the replay it does not appear [that].
“Even after that there were more combinations from me and a really strong headbutt. After that headbutt, I felt she got knocked down. I don’t know why but the referee stopped the fight after that kick and [separated us]. I don’t know what it was, but he stopped the fight, and I thought if he didn’t stop it, after my headbutt, I could finish it in the fourth round, because I felt that it was strong and that it affected him.
The headbutt Shevchenko is referring to landed early in the fourth round, but did so immediately after Shevchenko delivered a low blow to Santos. Referee Jason Herzog intervened and the fight resumed shortly after.
Regardless of what led to the change in momentum, Shevchenko retained her title and position as the best pound-for-pound female fighter in the world. And while talk ahead of UFC 275 was that Shevchenko could challenge for the bantamweight title next, ‘Bullet’ says this new criticism has given her fuel to prove a point in the division she still reigns over. .
“I think right now the next fight will be the next title defense for the flyweight division,” Shevchenko said. “Especially now because right now you can really see how many strong opponents and strong contenders in flyweight. Especially now because people are like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the plan’ or whatever. whatever, and I feel obligated in the next fight to show that these are still your thoughts but not the truth.