Valentina Shevchenko vs. Liz Carmouche highlights

Sunday, August 11, 2019

UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko is a complete fighter, with proven world-class skills in MMA striking, wrestling, and submissions. However, her base is in Muay Thai, a sport with comparatively little footwork. Knowing this, challenger Liz Carmouche employed a footwork-heavy approach that initially prevented taking much standing damage, but left little opportunity for strikes of her own. However, when Shevchenko did land the results were significant.

Muay Thai in Thailand is driven by gambling, which takes place during the opening of the round, so fighters typically don't go all out in the opening round. This too is characteristic of Shevchenko's style, which did not always serve her well in three-round fights. In fact, the first two rounds on Saturday night were tactical, with Carmouche often appearing to be more shadow boxing than fighting and the crowd audibly wanting more.

In Round 3 Shevchenko starting to get a feel for Carmouche's timing, leading to a knockdown and remarkable takedown.

Shevchenko continued to assert herself in the championship rounds, as seen in the latter part of this highlight clip.

And, of course, when it was over, there was the Lezginka.

The result was a bout that while not notably "fan-friendly" still showcased Bullet's dominance, winning every round on every judge's scorecard. In the post-fight press conference, Shevchenko offered her perspective.

“First of all, of course I’m happy with my victory. I’m very happy to have the belt here and not somewhere else,” said Shevchenko, as transcribed by Damon Martin for MMA Fighting. “My opponent, she has her strategy for the fight. She wanted to put me under her game and my goal was not to be [caught] by her game and put my game on top of her. My goal was to not give one moment to her and put my game on top of hers. This is what I was doing.”

“[Fans] still have a fresh memory about the knockout [against Jessica Eye] two months ago. They wanted to see the knockout but as I said inside the Octagon, sometimes you do the knockout, sometimes you don’t. It’s not the way to be upset or whatever. I think if all fans, people will start to watch more carefully the fight, they will see very beautiful technique and timing and speed and this is all about martial arts. Not only about crazy exchanges, you can be hit or you can lose much more because as I said, you have the belt or you don’t.”

"You cannot listen too much [to boos], because fighting opponent, for example like Liz, if you just go with a lot of emotion, she will catch you and put you down. You cannot do it. You have to be very smart fighter. Of course it’s affecting but at the same time what’s going to be better make fans feel good and lose your belt? Is it better?”

“If she wanted to be aggressive to show a good fight for the fans, she could be more aggressive but she was not."

The inevitable question is who's next? An obvious answer is a trilogy fight vs. champ champ Amanda Nunes, but that's apparently not happening immediately.

“I see more Amanda maybe, but not next, and not right now,” said Shevchenko on the ESPN+ post-fight show, as transcribed by Steven Marrocco for MMA Junkie. “My goal [is to have a lot of title defenses] for now. I was fighting for so long in different weight classes, and every time against a bigger, heavier, taller opponent. It makes all the difference. Now, I finally have the opportunity to fight against the same sized opponent.”

Shevchenko's original opponent for Saturday's fight was revealed to have been Katlyn Chookagian.

“For this fight, the UFC offered me a fight with Katlyn Chookagian, and I accepted it,” said Shevchenko. “But because of personal things, she decided to take some time off.”

Chookagian is getting married, but is at the top of the list at present.

And Valentina joking offered another scenario.

“Maybe when my sister [Antonina] is on top as the No. 1 contender, I’ll say, ‘You fight for the title, and I’ll go.'”