The first fight of the UFC main card features two ladies who’ve proven they can throw down. Brazilian Amanda Nunes and Russian Valentina Shevchenko are all about sticking shins and fists in opponents’ faces, and with Ronda Rousey on ice and Holly Holm on the throne, striking skills are at a premium nowadays.
Sporting probably the most power of all the ladies in the bantamweight division, Nunes clearly wants to catch her opponent leaning in, so she spends most of her time throwing wild kicks with the hope that Shevchenko will counter and get caught. But Shevchenko is wary, and her head movement is concise as hell, and she remains out of trouble. In the waning 30 seconds of the round Nunes gets a takedown, but the Russian gets back to her feet at the horn.
Round 2 has Shevchenko slightly more aggressive, which manifests as her stepping more into punching range and catching a kick. Nunes – who has a jiu-jitsu black belt – reverses and gets Shevchenko down, and goes to work dropping forearms and elbows from within the Russian’s half-guard. Shevchenko is soon a bloody mess. With a minute left in the round Nunes takes her back, and though the end seems nigh with her subsequent rear naked choke attempts, there’s no quit in Shevchenko, who escapes with ten seconds left.
Nunes comes out confident in Round 3 and Shevchenko stuns her with a knee and then an elbow, and when Nunes tries to throw her Shevchenko reverses and lands on top. She pins the Brazilians and scores with some ground and pound before Nunes works back to her feet, and what follows is tons of Nunes backpedaling while Shevchenko repeatedly knees her in the head while chasing her around. It isn’t enough to overcome the first two rounds she gave up, but it’s at least impressive.
Result: Amanda Nunes def. Valentina Shevchenko via Unanimous Decision