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Flyweight Queen Reign of Terror

Cover photo courtesy of Valentina Shevchenko and photographer Darya Morreale.

Valentina “The Bullet” Shevchenko will be a top five pound for pound fighter across genders. There, someone had to say it.

Man or woman, she is already top ten pound for pound. She has shown more talent than Volkanovski, shown better grappling and striking on par with Adesanya, and Zhang just won the title in the fall. Victories mean a lot, but when we are projecting the top talents in the sport, it’s also important how you win. 

A post shared by Valentina Shevchenko (@bulletvalentina) on Feb 5, 2020 at 3:32pm PST

She went strike for strike with Joanna, tapped Juliana Peña to fight for the title, and she is preparing to go on a run that will never be forgotten in the combat community. Is she ‘tiny’? No. That is perfect for the entire division. Men’s Flyweight was always criticized for the men being too small but those arguments do not apply here. These girls are a ready for war and the 125 division will get more competitive faster than people think.

In this game you can be a queen or you can be a queen regnant. In Valentina Shevchenko we have a queen regnant ushering in an era of terror. There has already been blood spilled, heads bounced, and submission imposed by the reigning champion. She catches her opponents on the ends of her punches more violently than most of the roster. Pop, pop, pop, she strikes literally like a gun. She fires right through her opponents with no wind up, hardly ever a wince, and rarely overreaches.

As high level as Joanna is, she got thrown around by Valentina like Joanna was figuratively her kid sister. We have seen Valentina’s grappling, her conditioning, and the diversity in her striking. Everything looks effortless for her. Many believe Shevchenko is 1-1 with double champ Amanda Nuñes and their arguments are strong. Only time can settle this, but Shevchenko is not lacking much in her legacy.

If Joanna reclaims the title March 7th, Shevchenko will have a victory over the 115lb champion. If Zhang retains her title, she will still have to earn a shot at Shevchenko. Watching Zhang take out Jessica Andrade was shocking, and intimidating, but it is nothing Shevchenko, a former 135lber has not seen before.

A post shared by Valentina Shevchenko (@bulletvalentina) on Feb 6, 2020 at 9:31pm PST

There are several compelling contenders out there for the UFC 125lb belt and 115lb division is the most entertaining if not talent stacked already. The 125lb Bellator champion Illima-Lei MacFarlane looks promising and is in her prime. She also cornered Shevchenko’s last opponent in Liz Carmouche so she should be familiar with training for Shevchenko’s style. Roxanne Modaferri is a gritty veteran, Maycee Barber still has a high ceiling, and Alexa Grasso will move up to Flyweight soon.

Valentina has two title defenses but she may get to ten in no time.  There are dark horses of tournaments, dark horses of divisions but she is the dark horse of the pound for pound list. It was written, Valentina Shevchenko will be top five pound for pound. Watch her fight this Saturday at UFC 247.  ■

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