Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk went for five rounds in the co-main event of UFC 231 in Toronto. It was a technical and patient display from both women, which lead to an intriguing and well-balanced tilt. However, it was a fight which lacked fireworks and it resulted in a pretty obvious decision victory for new UFC flyweight champion; Valentina Shevchenko.
The entire fight saw Jedrzejczyk trying to pressure Shevchenko by coming forwards with her famous jab and quick combos. However, ‘Bullet’ was content to sit back and wait for Jedrzejczyk to leave herself open. Throughout the fight Shevchenko was able to club Jedrzejczyk when she came in, but her biggest success came from the pressure she was able to exert on the former UFC strawweight champion when bullying her against the fence and taking her down.
Jedrzejczyk showed more fight in the championship rounds and found some success attacking Shevchenko’s legs and body. But it wasn’t enough. As the fight ground to a close, both women allowed themselves to get wild as they searched for something to clinch the fight. They couldn’t find that magic strike, though, and the judges were left with a relatively easy decision to make. All of them scored it 49-46 for Shevchenko.
What was the high point of the fight?
Round two was Shevchenko’s best round and it set the tone for what would follow. The high point of the round came with two minutes left, when Shevchenko bull rushed Jedrzejczyk back against the fence and then elevated her, slung her over, and planted her on the canvas. From there Shevchenko enjoyed side control, dropping elbows on Jedrzejczyk’s brow. Shevchenko held Jedrzejczyk there for almost the remainder of the round. When Jedrzejczyk was able to get up, she ate a hard knee to the head for her troubles.
The dominant performance in that round for Shevchenko forced more urgency out of Jedrzejczyk in the latter half of the fight, but it also gave Shevchenko the confidence to continue taking and holding down Jedrzejczyk.
Where do these two go from here?
In somewhat comfortably besting Jedrzejczyk, Shevchenko became the undisputed queen of the UFC’s newest division. Before her is a shallow field of competitors, with a number of the top contenders lacking experience, like Sijara Eubanks, or sporting so-so win-loss-records, like Jessica Eye. Eubanks or Eye may get the nod next. Or perhaps the inaugural champ — Nicco Montano, who missed her scheduled match with Shevchenko earlier this year — will get a shocking shot at the new champ.
The loss for Jedrzejczyk’s dashes the prospects of her receiving another title shot in any UFC division any time soon. At 115 lbs she has back-to-back losses to current champ Rose Namajunas and this was her fourth loss to Shevchenko (who she faced three times in Muay Thai competition).
Jedrzejczyk’s will probably get a top ranked fighter, in either strawweight or flyweight, next. However, it will unlikely be one she can use as a springboard back into title contention. Perhaps a fight with a veteran like Alexis Davis or Liz Carmouche will provide the opportunity for Jedrzejczyk to bounce back into the win column.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Watch this one later. It’s a history making fight involving two of the best women currently in the sport (and perhaps ever). It didn’t have the highs that would demand it being watched immediately, but it certainly isn’t a fight you should count out just because of the unanimous outcome.