Thursday, March 30, 2023  |



UFC: Shevchenko submits Pena, wants Nunes next

Fighters Network

Coming into UFC on Fox at the Pepsi Center on Saturday, the narrative for the main event was whoever imposed their game plan would be victorious in the bantamweight No.1 contender fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena.

Unfortunately for Pena, the narrative was completely wrong. Shevchenko pulled off a second-round submission victory over Pena via armbar at 4:29 of the second round, despite the fact that the “Venezuelan Vixen” was able to implement her plan of controlling distance and fighting in clinches.

With the win, Shevchenko is in line to get her rematch with UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, who beat her via unanimous decision last March in her only defeat inside the Octagon.

Following Saturday’s fight, Nunes calmly entered the Octagon and briefly went back and forth with Shevchenko during her post fight interview with UFC commentator Brian Stann.

“I’m pretty sure the next fight will be a title shot,” Shevchenko said. “I’m very excited to take this rematch and take this belt.” With a big smile on her face, Nunez replied “Next time I will finish you,” the champion also added, “You know I’ll beat you. I know how to beat you.”

Shevchenko responded, “Be very careful with your words, they will come back to (haunt) you.”

A former professional kickboxer, Shevchenko (14-2) matched up surprisingly well with Pena (8-3) on the floor. The Peruvian bantamweight scored a couple of takedowns in the opening round and despite being smothered for the entire round, she was able to surprise Pena with an armbar at one point.

Pena survived that attempt as the round ended.

Things seemed to be going Pena’s way in the second. The Venezuelan consistently bullied her way into the clinch while landing timely knees to the body. Pena racked up a striking advantage of 78 to 46, but struggled to take Shevchenko to the mat.

The new bantamweight No. 1 contender’s takedown defense might of surprised Pena and her corner but Shevchenko expected it to be this good.

“Many people before the fight said, ‘You are a striker and Julianna is a wrestler — how are you going to deal with this?” Shevchenko said. “Every time, I said, ‘Yes, I am a striker but I am an MMA fighter. I am a complete fighter.”

The finish proved just how versatile Shevchenko’s game is. She was able to attack the arm and roll Pena over for the finish despite her opponent being dominant in the round.

If Shevchenko keeps adding to her game, she could become the fifth woman to be UFC women’s bantamweight champion.