Amanda Nunes won the belt by wrecking Miesha Tate, and she won our hearts by completely wrecking Ronda Rousey. Valentina Shevchenko’s only Octagon loss came at the hands of Nunes at UFC 196, and it was so damn close – and Shevchenko has won consistently since – that a rematch has been inevitable. And here it is! Ladies and gents, it’s your UFC 215 main event.
The sole glaring weakness in Nunes’ game has been her cardio, and it nearly cost her in their first fight, so Round 1 sees the champ move in a controlled and measured manner. Essentially, that’s a nice way of saying she does nothing but flick out kicks and the occasional punch. Shevchenko does the same – her game has always been to let opponents shoot their wad, and smoke them when they’re tired.
Shevchenko turns up the heat ever so slightly in the second. It’s nothing spectacular, but she opens up with more kicks herself, and nails the champ with a few Superman punches. Nunes is still pacing herself. This bout is turning into a Tyron Woodley/Stephen Thompson special. Ugh.
Round 3 sees Nunes up the tempo with more strikes, and she’s got power in them, but referee John McCarthy keeps warning her about holding her fingers open in front of her (which can lead to an eye gouge).
The champ keeps targeting Shevchenko’s leg with kicks in the fourth, and she starts pursuing a bit. Shevchenko, meanwhile, is marking her up with counters – she excels with her boxing counters, so Nunes is playing into her strengths.
They open the fifth with a brief face-punching party, then it’s back to the same old dance. But Nunes shoots unexpectedly, putting wrestling into the equation. Shevchenko whiffs on a throw and Nunes takes her back. After some work, the Brazilian gets the takedown, and she rides out the clock in Shevchenko’s guard.
Results: Amanda Nunes def. Valentina Shevchenko via Split Decision