Valentina Shevchenko Has Strong Take on Rival Amanda Nunes’ UFC Title Loss

Amanda Nunes & Valentina Shevchenko

Getty Amanda Nunes & Valentina Shevchenko

Reigning UFC women’s flyweight champion believes Amanda Nunes looked “different” in her title-losing effort against Julianna Pena in December.

Nunes and Shevchenko ruled the 135 and 125-pound weight divisions side by side for years until “The Lioness” dropped her bantamweight title at UFC 269. Pena weathered Nunes’ storm in round one and caught her on the feet during the second frame, leading to a rear-naked choke victory. It was Nunes’ first loss since 2014 and her 12-fight unbeaten streak was snapped.

Nunes, who is still the UFC women’s featherweight champion, will receive an immediate rematch against “The Venezuelan Vixen.” The two are set to do battle at UFC 277 on July 30.

The Lioness is no stranger to Shevchenko. The two pound-for-pound greats have competed against each other twice inside the Octagon as bantamweights. They first met at UFC 196 in March 2016 and Nunes won via unanimous decision. Rematching in September 2017 at UFC 215, The Lioness once again went home as the victor, that time by split decision.

Both decisions, especially the second one, have been disputed by Shevchenko, as well as many MMA fans. There have been talks in the MMA world for years about a trilogy, and it’s still possible one day.

During an interview with Ariel Helwani on Monday’s “The MMA Hour,” Shevchenko gave her take on Nunes’ loss to Pena.

“I was not in shock,” Shevchenko said via MMA Fighting. “Of course it was surprising, but I didn’t see Amanda in the same fight shape as she used to be in the fight. For example, when we fought together she was completely different eyes, different everything. In the Julianna fight, she was a little bit more relaxed. I don’t know how she prepared for this fight, but she looked different.”

Pena Defeating Nunes Derailed the 3rd Nunes & Shevchenko Fight

When asked by the media about a potential trilogy fight, Nunes and Shevchenko haven’t shied away. And if The Lioness defeated Pena at UFC 269, there was a possibility “Bullet” and Nunes would have met each other this year.

Well, Shevchenko sees herself eventually fighting the winner of the UFC 277 scrap between Pena and The Lioness.

“I think it’s just on standby, before July,” Shevchenko told Helwani. “This is where they booked the rematch. I think it’s inevitable. Or if [she loses] it will be Julianna Peña. We fought Julianna a few years ago, I submitted her with an armbar, and now people are definitely bringing up her name more frequently.”

Like Nunes, Bullet has a history with Pena. They headlined UFC on Fox 23 in January 2017 and Shevchenko caught the future bantamweight champion in an armbar, winning via second-round submission.

“There is always the chance,” Shevchenko said about moving up to 135 pounds again. “Definitely the bigger fight, the better.”

Shevchenko Fights Next Month, Eyeing Meisha Tate or Pena/Nunes Winner Next

Shevchenko (22-3) is scheduled to defend her 125-pound title for the seventh time. Bullet and Taila Santos will clash during the UFC 275 co-main event on June 11.

And should she get past the No. 4-ranked contender, Shevchenko sees herself potentially fighting the winner of Pena vs. Nunes at the end of 2022. But, she also has her eyes on former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Meisha Tate, who is making her divisional debut at UFC 276 on July 2 against Lauren Murphy.

“I think by the end of the year it’s going to be a good fight,” Shevchenko said. “But also we have to see — Miesha Tate is coming to 125 in July. So many things can happen, many things can change. So yeah, I think it’s possible. It’s very, very, very possible.”

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