LAS VEGAS – Valentina Shevchenko’s dominance has reached the point where MMA fans are shocked when she loses a round.
Shevchenko (20-3) defended the 125-pound UFC Championship for the fourth time on Saturday, defeating Jennifer Maya (18-7-1) by unanimous decision. All three judges won the championship, 49-46.
The lightweight title fight is the title of UFC 255 at Apex.
“I’m very happy that it was five rounds because I had a long cut,”
“Preparing for this battle, I knew she wasn’t going to be an easy opponent. I watched her fight and saw what she was like. She never gave up. I knew it would be a good belt fight.”
All in all, this was the dominant performance of the 32-year-old champion, who is ranked 2nd in the ESPN rankings for female fighter pound for pound on the planet. There was a brief glimmer of hope for Maya, but in the second round, when she managed to pull Shevchenko, put her on her back and become only the second fly in UFC history to win a round over Shevchenko.
The MMA community reacted immediately to Maia’s ability to equalize after two rounds, but any optimism she could muster, which would be the biggest betting disorder in UFC history, was short-lived. Shevchenko easily took advantage of control in the third round, including his own download, and escaped the results the rest of the way.
“Every time I work on both, I hit and fight,” Shevchenko said. “I prepare my body to react in the right way.”
According to UFC Stats, Shevchenko overtook Maia in a total of 231-101 strikes – and the discrepancy showed. Maya’s face was bloodied until the end of the battle, and Shevchenko won many stylistic points with rotating elbows and kicks. She mixed in five successful downloads, which connects the most she recorded in a UFC fight. She used five downloads in her victory over the decision over Joanna Jerzejczyk for the vacant title in 2018.
Maya of Curitiba, Brazil, proved to be a steady opponent and her physical strength in simply holding Shevchenko down in the second round and against the fence during other parts of the battle was worth noting, but she scored very little real offense and was an easy target until the last round, when Shevchenko had apparently found his groove.
Born in Kyrgyzstan and fighting in Las Vegas, Shevchenko could face former straw champion Jessica Andrade in her next defense. She will probably be an important favorite in this match, but the belief is that this will be her most difficult test since claiming the belt in 2018. Since then, her defense has come against Jessica Oko, Liz Karmash, Kathleen Chokagian and Maya.
To add a bonus to the evening, Shevchenko’s older sister, Antonina, also took victory on Saturday, knocking out Ariane Lipsky at UFC 255 under the cards.