CHICAGO – A traumatic start at Valentina Shevchenko’s training camp didn’t deter her from pulling off another shocking upset in the UFC women’s bantamweight division.
Shevchenko, from Kyrgyzstan, stunned Holly Holm on Saturday night at UFC Chicago, unanimously outpointing the former UFC champion.
Less than two months ago, Shevchenko was at a chicken restaurant in Lima, Peru, when it was raided by armed robbers. Her trainer, Pavel Fedotov, was shot in the abdomen during the robbery. He has recovered and was in Shevchenko’s corner Saturday.
Fedotov pushed Shevchenko to continue to train for the fight.
“It was a very different camp than I had to endure in all my life,” Shevchenko said. “After two days when he (Pavel) was in the hospital he said, you should take this fight and prepare. It doesn’t matter what happened.”
Fighting for the first fight since losing the belt to Miesha Tate at UFC 196, Holm had losing scores of 49-46 from all of the judges.
Her stunning knockout of then-champ Ronda Rousey in Australia at UFC 193 catapulted Holm (10-2) into the spotlight of mixed martial arts, but she followed with the back-to-back losses.
“I know I’m capable of more. I think I just need to believe in myself a little more. Like I said, I know I can do more. I didn’t perform well tonight. Valentina is really tough, we know that,” said Holm. “It’s not like I haven’t been taught the right things, it all comes down to my performance, it wasn’t great tonight.”
Shevchenko (13-2) put herself in the mix to contend for the women’s bantamweight title at 135 pounds that is held by Amanda Nunes, who she lost to in March at UFC 196.
Holm knocked Shevchenko to the mat with a quick hook early in the first round as Shevchenko quickly got back to her feet. Shevchenko had a takedown late in the round.
In the third round, after Shevchenko got in a few jabs, Shevchenko caught Holm’s leg on a kick attempt and took her down. Shevchenko had another takedown and kept Holm on the mat for the rest of the round as she landed punches.
“I’ve never in my career, whether it be boxing or MMA ever felt like that I’m at the top because I always know there is somebody else aspiring to be the best,” Holm said. “Just as I first came into MMA, I want to have titles in both. I had drive in me. I still do so I never look at a division and think I made it to the top and I’m just going to stay there. There is always somebody hungry.”
Shevchenko may get another shot at Nunes, who dismantled Tate for the belt at UFC 200.
Nunes in a tweet insinuated that Shevchenko is not ready for a rematch.
“She is definitely scared. I’m ready for five rounds with her, I will take whoever is next, but I think she is scared,” responded Shevchenko.
In the co-main event, Edson Barboza won in a unanimous decision over Gilbert Melendez in a lightweight fight.
Barboza (18-4) began to take control late in the second round. Melendez attempted a kick, but Barboza caught Melendez’s leg and took him down. Barboza had Melendez (22-6) pinned to ground as he landed a series of punches, but Melendez was saved by the bell.
Barboza scored with the judges on a number of kicks to Melendez’s left knee in the third round as the judges scored the fight 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 in favor of Barboza.
Barboza backed up his last win against former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis
Melendez, who hasn’t fought since June 13, 2015, losing a split decision to now-champ Eddie Alvarez, has lost his last three fights.
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