Valentina Shevchenko retained her flyweight title in a five-round decision over Liz Carmouche but it’s probably not a performance that will end up on her all-time highlight reel.
A restless crowd in Uruguay was unhappy at best after watching Shevchenko out point Carmouche, who barely registered any offense at all over 25 minutes while coming up short in her second attempt to win UFC gold. The judges scored the fight 50-45, 50-45, and 50-45 all in Shevchenko’s favor.
“My strategy was to use all my skills to defend her,” Shevchenko said following her second straight title defense. “She has very uncommon techniques, style and timing. So I did everything to assure my victory inside the cage.”
There wasn’t much action through the first two rounds with Shevchenko throwing the only real offense while Carmouche appeared happy to play defense on the outside to avoid taking any damage. While Shevchenko did manage to unleash a couple of strong combinations, she was coiled and ready to counter strike Carmouche but the opportunity never really came.
A lot of posturing from the fighters had the crowd up in arms but Shevchenko and Carmouche were committed to their strategies to get the victory.
Finally with two minutes remaining in the third round, Shevchenko pushed forward with a quick-fire combination with the second punch putting Carmouche down on the ground. The brief knockdown stalled after Shevchenko opted to kick at the legs rather than dive down to the mat to engage in a grappling battle.
Shevchenko changed her mind a few moments later as she grabbed onto the body lock and tossed Carmouche to the canvas, although she wasn’t able to mount much offense from inside the guard with the fighters locked against the cage wall.
The momentum was clearly in the champion’s corner going into the fourth round as Shevchenko started to open up with her offense a bit more than she did through the first 15 minutes in the Octagon. Shevchenko controlled Carmouche on the ground for a big part of the round, although she wasn’t doing much damage.
The best shot of the round came with less than a minute remaining when Shevchenko uncorked a beautiful spinning back fist that clubbed Carmouche as she dove forward looking for a takedown of her own.
The final five minutes was largely a carbon copy of the rest of the fight with Shevchenko pressing forward, mixing up between striking combinations and takedowns with Carmouche just playing defense until the final horn sounded.
There was little doubt Shevchenko was going to retain her title as she continues to run roughshod over the entire UFC flyweight division. With this latest victory, Shevchenko was short and sweet when asked about what comes next for her as she looks to continue her reign of terror at 125 pounds.
“I want everyone here inside the Octagon,” Shevchenko stated.