Shevchenko (23-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) recorded her seventh consecutive title defense on Saturday when she edged Santos (19-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) by split decision at Singapore Indoor Stadium. It was a competitive fight and “The Bullet” was tested unlike any other bout in her reign, but ultimately two of three judges saw it in he favor.
Although Santos had more control throughout the five rounds, Shevchenko said that’s not enough to secure a win. Especially when compared to the damage she thinks she inflicted from various positions, including when her back was taken in Santos’ biggest moments.
“I did everything I had to do,” Shevchenko told reporters, including MMA Junkie, post-fight at UFC 275. “I had challenging fight. I had five rounds, and this is exactly what I wanted, an opponent who is not giving up in the first second and goes until the end. In this kind of fight you can show what you’re made of. Your character, your mindset. No matter how hard, no matter how difficult.
“She was inactive, and me being even in that position I was striking and I was feeling the power of the strikes and I felt how she treated because it was hurting her. This is what counts the most in mixed martial arts, is damage. I could even feel in the fight round-to-round you could see more damage showing on her face more and more.”
UFC 275 results: Valentina Shevchenko edges Taila Santos by split decision after toughest title-fight test
Santos exceeded the expectations placed around her ahead of UFC 275 by taking rounds off Shevchenko and producing moments of success. That’s more than many of her previous opponents can say, but there were no real moments of concern, according to Shevchenko.
There’s no doubt Shevchenko’s future foes will examine this fight closely and use it as a motivating factor to think she can be beaten. Ultimately, Shevchenko isn’t worried about any chinks in her armor being revealed, though, and doesn’t anticipate her run on top coming to an end anytime soon.
“Maybe they can think they can beat me, but they cannot,” Shevchenko said. “Even in the hard positions (I have a) champion’s mindset. Every time I will be on top. This is what I have. Being in martial arts for 30 years made me a hard opponent, very hard. Even if they think they can, they cannot.”