UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko might not possess the same kind of mainstream name recognition as a few of her toughest opponents. It’s a list that includes retired former champion Ronda Rousey, current UFC “champ champ” Amanda Nunes and Bellator champ Cris Cyborg, specifically.
But the Russian-born 125-pound kickboxing dynamo could soon be on her way to establishing herself among that level of notoriety.
Shevchenko has just about everything a potential UFC megastar could possibly want at her disposal, and she seems to be on her way to building her own excellent career within the world’s premier MMA promotional company.
UFC 247 takes place February 8 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
Nicknamed “Bullet” because of her incredible speed, the 31-year-old who lives in Las Vegas and trains there as well as Houston, Peru, Thailand and other places around the world, is scheduled to make the third defense of her UFC women’s flyweight crown against top-ranked contender Katlyn “Blonde Fighter” Chookagian in the co-main event of UFC 247 in Houston.
She’s a premier talent skyrocketing to the top of the sport, so move over, Jon Jones, because it looks like there will be another pound-for-pound superstar soaking up the limelight in Texas on Feb. 8.
Here are five facts you need to know about rising UFC star Shevchenko.
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1. Movie Star Shevchenko Set to Make Big Screen Debut
Shevchenko is set to play the role of Halle Berry’s antagonist in an upcoming film entitled “Bruised”. The film, which is currently in production, was written by Michelle Rosenfarb and follows the story of a fictitious MMA athlete named Jackie “Justice”, portrayed by Berry, who is a disgraced fighter trying to conquer her own personal demons so she can reunite with her 6-year-old son. To do that, of course, she’ll have to go through “Bullet”.
According to Deadline, Berry trained alongside Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes, who is also set to star in the film, and even suffered an injury while filming a fight scene recently in New Jersey.
Did the Oscar-winning actress get tagged by one of “Bullet” Shevchenko’s patented high kicks during sparring? That part of the story wasn’t revealed, but Shevchenko did confirm to BT Sport that she enjoyed the experience of playing a “bad character” opponent in the yet-to-be-released movie.
2. ‘Bullet’ Survived a Crazy Shooting at Restaurant in Peru
Shevchenko survived a violent shootout in Peru in May 2016 when she was having dinner with her coach, Pavel Fedotov, at a chicken restaurant in the Chorrilos district of Lima. It was then that three armed robbers stormed inside the local eatery and violently attacked anyone who would not comply with their demands for wallets, cash and jewelry.
Fedotov, who was also armed, fired his own shots at the robbers which started a shootout. That resulted in several of the customers getting injured, including Fedotov, who was shot by one of the robbers in the stomach, as well as the death of one of the assailants.
The melee was captured by security cameras in the restaurant that had been installed by the owners of the restaurant after six other robberies had occurred at the same location. In the video, Shevchenko can be seen rushing to the aid of Fedotov after he was shot.
Maybe the craziest part? Shevchenko went on as planned with her scheduled bout the following month against former bantamweight champion Holly Holm. It was just Shevchenko’s third UFC fight, one she won in what was considered at the time to be a stunning upset.
3. Fighting Is the Shevchenko Family Business
Shevchenko isn’t the only fighter in the family. In fact, older sister Antonina is also a UFC flyweight and married to trainer Pavel Fedotov, who coaches both Shevchenko sisters and moved with them from Kyrgyzstan to Peru over a decade ago.
Both sisters have been involved in martial arts from a very young age after following in the footsteps of their mother, Elena, who is a 3rd Dan black belt in Taekwondo and president of the Kyrgyzstan Muay Thai Federation.
Moreover, both Valentina and Antonina have won multiples titles in kickboxing and Muay Thai. Together, the Shevchenko sisters are a startling 28-4 in MMA, so fighting is the Shevchenko family business, and business is as good as ever in 2020.
4. Shevchenko is Pound-For-Pound Elite
Shevchenko is considered one of the top fighters in the world today. In fact, before the UFC revamped its official pound-for-pound list during the last week in January, Shevchenko was ranked No. 12 among all male and female UFC competitors (right behind Conor McGregor).
But now that the UFC has two separate lists for men and women, Shevchenko is ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound among all women right behind the UFC’s double champion at bantamweight and featherweight, Amanda Nunes.
Shevchenko already lost twice to Nunes. She lost via unanimous decision in what was just Shevchenko’s second UFC fight and again via split decision the following year. But where Nunes has dominated other top contenders, the Brazilan couldn’t quite do the same to the crafty and quick Shevchenko.
Moreover, Shevchenko is undefeated since moving down to the flyweight division, and she seems to have improved in each of her last four fights. In fact, some in the sport believe she could be on her way to landing another huge showdown against Nunes later this year.
5. Shevchenko Scored Devastating Head Kick KO Against Jessica Eye Last Year
Shevchenko scored one of the most devastating knockouts in the UFC last year.
In the second round of her first title defense against Jessica Eye at UFC 238, Shevchenko landed a thunderous head kick that was perfectly executed, truly terrifying and powerful enough to leave Eye scarily unable to rise to her feet for several minutes.
Thankfully, Eye recovered from the blow, and the fantastic knockout went on to be seen by millions of people all over the world after it turned into a viral sensation on social media.
Shevchenko’s picture-perfect knockout of Eye isn’t’ the thing that established the fighter as one of the premier MMA fighters in the world today. Her constant improvement over the years and many wins under the banners of multiple MMA promotional companies around the world did most of that work. But the stunning knockout did offer Shevchenko quite the bonus promotional push that could help her someday soon become a mainstream crossover megastar.
She’s gone on since to score a decision win over Liz Carmouche and now has the chance to continue her trek toward becoming one of the next big superstars the UFC produces for the new decade by beating Chookagian at UFC 247.