Making the Case for Nunes-Schevchenko Part III

Valentina Schevchenko’s latest victory at UFC 261 proves that it is time to complete the trilogy with top-ranked UFC fighter Amanda Nunes.

By Savannah Moore

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko are the two most dominant champions in the UFC. The pair are ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 women’s pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC. Nunes is currently a double champion, holding both the Bantamweight and Featherweight titles. Shevchenko won the vacant Flyweight Championship in late 2018 and hasn’t looked back. With both fighters at the top of their game, fans think now is the best time for her to challenge Nunes again.

Valentina Shevchenko with her Flyweight Championship Belt
(SOURCE: Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Valentina Schevchenko successfully defended her Flyweight Championship for the fifth time against Jessica Andrade at UFC 261. Shevchenko dominated the match and defeated the former Strawweight champion in just two rounds. The win has people talking about a potential third meeting with top-ranked Nunes.  

Nunes and Shevchenko first went head-to-head early in their UFC careers, before either had touched UFC gold back in 2016. Nunes won by unanimous decision, in what was Shevchenko’s second ever UFC fight. Although she lost, people were impressed by Shevchenko‘s performance. Nunes’ victory made her the number one contender for the Bantamweight championship, which was held by Miesha Tate at the time. 

The face for Nunes vs Shevchenko 1
(SOURCE: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Nunes shined against Tate, winning by submission in the first round and capturing her first championship, but the road wasn’t getting any easier. Her first title defense was against UFC legend Ronda Rousey. Many doubted if Nunes would be able to compete with Rousey,  the woman who most people believed was the best fighter we had seen to that point. Those questions were quickly answered when Nunes knocked out Rousey 48 seconds into the fight.

Meanwhile, it seemed as if Shevchenko was on her way to becoming the #1 contender after she earned a victory over former Bantamweight champion Holly Holm. Shevchenko followed that up with a submission victory against Julianna Peña. It was then announced that Nunes and Shevchenko would have their rematch at UFC 213, this time for the Bantamweight belt.

On July 8, 2017 the night of UFC 213, Nunez fell ill and pulled out of the fight, so the event was pushed back and rescheduled to UFC 215. The second edition of Nunes vs. Shevchenko lived up to the hype, and then some.

In a five round barn-burner the two fighters went back and forth until the final bell. Controversially, Nunes was announced the winner by split-decision and retained her title. Multiple media outlets also expressed outrage, claiming that Shevchenko was the true winner. Shevchenko stated in her post-fight interview that she completely disagreed with the judges, but would accept the results. A few weeks later Shevchenko would announce her intentions to move to the Flyweight division. 

Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes after the results of their second fight were announced. 
(SOURCE: Esther Lin, MMA Fighting)

With Shevchenko out of the division, Nunes has destroyed almost every remaining contender. In December 2018, Nunes moved up a weight class to challenge Cris Cyborg for the Featherweight championship. Cyborg is considered one of the greatest female mixed martial artists UFC has ever seen. She had already won titles in two other major promotions—Strikeforce and Ivicta—prior to joining UFC in 2015. Nunes was the underdog going into the fight—she was stepping into Cyborg’s element. Nunes had proven herself to be great, but not that great. 

Cris Cyborg had never been knocked out in her 13-year career. It took Amanda Nunes 51 seconds. The loss was only the second of Cyborg’s career.

Nunes became the first female double champion in UFC history, and would later become the only double champion to successfully defend both belts. At this point, it is becoming difficult to find fighters who can match up with Nunes. Shevchenko is slowly starting to reach the same status, and is still the only fighter that has made Nunes look human over the past four years. 

Amanda Nunes with the Bantamweight and Featherweight Championship Belts
(SOURCE: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC President Dana White said he is open to finishing the trilogy if the fighters showed a strong interest. Shevchenko recently stated that she feels that a third fight with Nunes is inevitable, but she won’t force it. Nunes seems to think differently, she claims that if Shevchenko wanted an opportunity she wouldn’t have ran out of the Bantamweight division all those years ago.

Those sound like fighting words to me—a fight that most fans would be happy to see settled in the octagon, please.

Book it, Dana!

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