UFC women’s bantamweight contender Valentina Shevchenko is excited to finally get her shot at taking the belt from Amanda Nunes when they meet in a rescheduled title bout in the co-main event of UFC 215 on Sept. 9 in Edmonton, Alberta.
Shevchenko won’t even consider the chance that Nunes could pull out of the fight again as she did because of illness just hours before they were supposed to meet at UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena in July.
“I don’t know how or why that could possibly happen again,” the challenger said last week in Las Vegas. “But I’m sure if it does, it won’t be good for her.”
Shevchenko doesn’t think it will be good for Nunes to step in the cage with her, either.
“My goal is still the same: to win the fight and finish it as fast as I can,” the 29-year-old said outside of the UFC’s Las Vegas headquarters. “This whole thing is worse for her because now I feel much stronger.”
Shevchenko has won seven of her last eight fights, with the lone loss coming to Nunes before she was champion in 2016. Her eyes have been on a rematch ever since, a focus that grew even stronger when Nunes captured the belt by beating Miesha Tate later that year and then solidifying her grip on the division with a first-round knockout of Ronda Rousey in December.
The Soviet-born Peruvian fighter had gone through a full training camp and was on weight and ready to go when she learned on the eve of her title shot she wouldn’t be able to compete.
Shevchenko was disappointed with the news, only to draw on her two decades of training to channel her feelings in a more constructive direction.
“My life in the martial arts has taught me to control all my emotions,” she said. “That’s why when the fight was canceled, I was able to block everything else out and focus on the new date. I know I can’t think too much about what happened. It’s not good for your preparation. It will just get worse for you. You just have to keep going and try to make the best of it.
“It’s already to a point where I don’t remember. There’s been enough time. I’m already focused on the new fight. That’s why for me, it’s in the past.”
The card will be headlined by a flyweight title bout between Ray Borg and champion Demetrious Johnson.
A rumored UFC women’s flyweight bout between Paige VanZant and Jessica Eye has been made official, sources close to the organization confirmed to the Review-Journal on Monday.
The fight has been added to the UFC 216 card on Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena.
Both fighters will move into the new 125-pound division for the fight.
VanZant will move up from 115 pounds after a loss to contender Michelle Waterson in December.
Eye, who has lost four straight fights at bantamweight, will move down for an opportunity to compete in her natural weight class now that the organization has added a fourth division for females. She was scheduled to fight Aspen Ladd at T-Mobile Arena in July, but Ladd got sick on the day of the fight and was forced to withdraw.
The inaugural women’s flyweight champion is being crowned through the currently filming season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
UFC 216 includes an interim lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and Las Vegan Kevin Lee.
UFC back in action
One of the longest down periods without a fight card in the modern era of the UFC will end Saturday with UFC Fight Night 115 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Stefan Struve will fight Alexander Volkov in the headliner of a card slated to stream on UFC Fight Pass at noon, with preliminary card action set for 8:30 a.m. on the service.
Former women’s featherweight champ Germaine de Randamie was slated for a bout against Marion Reneau, but de Randamie was forced to pull out of the event on Friday because of an injury. Reneau will instead face promotional newcomer Talita de Oliveira.
The organization’s last event was UFC Fight Night 114 on Aug. 5. The last time there was no UFC event for four weeks was in 2012.
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Tuesday: Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (Fight Pass), TUF Gym
Thursday: Invicta 25 (Fight Pass), LeMoore, California
Saturday: UFC Fight Night 115 (Fight Pass), Rotterdam, Netherlands
Sept. 9: UFC 215 (FS1/PPV), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Sept. 16: UFC Fight Night 116 (FS1), Pittsburgh
Sept. 22: UFC Fight Night 117 (FXX), Saitama, Japan