It wasn’t easy for UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko to celebrate in the immediate aftermath of her spectacular knockout at UFC 238 in Chicago on Saturday night.
Her opponent, Jessica Eye, was still lying motionless on her back in the center of the cage at United Center after a thunderous head kick ended the action in the opening moments of the second round.
Shevchenko first had to make sure the fight was actually over.
“The very first moment, you cannot think about (Eye’s status) because the fight is still going,” Shevchenko said at the postfight news conference. “It wasn’t until the referee stopped the fight and I went to my corner, I saw that she was not getting up. And then I start to think. But the very, very first moment, it’s difficult to think about it.”
Eye eventually came to and was transported to the hospital. Shevchenko was able to do her traditional victory dance in the cage as she celebrated her first knockout victory in the UFC, one that will be replayed for years to come.
Eye, who moved to Las Vegas several months ago, issued a statement on social media Sunday morning.
“Congratulation (Shevchenko),” Eye wrote. “That was an incredible head kick. I am thankful for the chance to share the cage with you. To my true supporters: thank you so much for all you do for me. I am OK and thank you for caring about me. I had a great camp and felt the best I have ever. I made some mistakes that cost me dearly. This fight game can be rough at times but it’s what I signed up for.”
Shevchenko said she didn’t watch top contender Katlyn Chookagian’s decision win over Joanne Calderwood on Saturday night, but doesn’t have a problem with her being the next challenger to the belt sometime in the fall.
What will Cejudo do?
Henry Cejudo’s next move is more up in the air after the flyweight champion captured the vacant bantamweight title in Saturday’s main event with a third-round knockout of Marlon Moraes.
UFC president Dana White announced Saturday the flyweight division is not being eliminated, contrary to rumors it was being phased out by the organization. He said he was “blown away” by Cejudo’s performance and will talk to the double-champion about his next move.
Cejudo indicated he would be seeking much bigger paydays now that he’s in control of two belts.
“I need to meet with Dana White,” Cejudo said. “I need a meeting with him because I need heavyweight money.
“I feel like I’m the face of the UFC now, and I want to be paid like one. Dana White has been great to me. He’s been really good – I have nothing bad to say. But I want to make heavyweight money. I want to change this game.”
Cejudo is just the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold simultaneous titles in two different weight classes and currently the second, joining women’s bantamweight and featherweight champ Amanda Nunes.