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UFC On FOX 17: Excellent Debut For Muay Thai Champ

Valentina Shevchenko

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.”

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