Valentina Shevchenko is nicknamed “The Bullet” and made quite the impact with her performance at UFC on FOX 17 Saturday night.
The Octagon-debuting Shevchenko scored a split decision over Sarah Kaufman, a former Strikeforce bantamweight champion.
The 27-year-old Shevchenko (12-1) won several titles at the IFMA World Champions in Muay Thai, including gold in 2015 and ’14. She replaced Germaine de Randamie on just eight days notice to get a shot with the UFC.
“I took the fight on short notice, so we started my preparation and training really hard,” she said. “With this short of time, I didn’t get to show everything I wanted or that I was a 17-time world champion.
“I like to fight Muay Thai, and I like to mix different techniques into my training – it all depends on my opponent. Sarah has very good, strong hands and technique. I knew it wasn’t going to be won just by striking, so I had to figure out something clever in the fight. My coach put in my mind: if I can win the stand up game, that was good, but to win at grappling would be better.”
In February, Shevchenko fought for Legacy FC for the first time, earning a decision over Jan Finney. Her only loss was to former UFC No. 1 contender Liz Carmouche, which she has scored five straight since.
“I’ve been doing martial arts since I was five years old, and 22 years of my sporting career are in martial arts. This isn’t just my job, this is my life and this is what I love to do,” she said. “I knew UFC was a big organization, and there was pressure going into this. But, a fight is a fight and inside the cage, we are all the same. I tried to do the best I can. This fight was good experience for me.”