Valentina Shevchenko entered the sixth defense of her women’s flyweight title on Saturday at UFC 266 as a near-comedic favorite according to punters. It turns out that the betting line may not have been wide enough.
Shevchenko (22-3) continued to assert with her performance that she is the most dominant UFC champion, regardless of gender or weight, after a fourth round TKO from Lauren Murphy (15-5). The 125-pound title fight served as the main co-event inside the T-Mobile Arena.
“It’s just amazing and the best feeling,” Shevchenko said. “If you don’t believe in martial arts, you are wrong because martial arts are everything.”
Although Murphy, 38, has entered a five-game winning streak, she has simply never been in the fight. Shevchenko attacked her with a variety of punches using all four limbs from several distances. The champion also took down Murphy at will and dominated ground control.
Murphy did well to rack up damage without going through three rounds even though Shevchenko’s pressure managed to disarm her completely as Murphy became increasingly reluctant to throw due to how quickly she was countered.
Finally, Shevchenko, 33, broke through in Round 4. After a hard kick and a front kick to the face, Shevchenko visibly wobbled Murphy with a block, right hook. The champion invaded a flurry of punches before defeating Murphy with ease.
A savage assault of elbows and punches from first position ensued from Shevchenko until referee Keith Peterson called off the bout at 4:00 am of Round 4.
“When you feel like this is the time when you can get the finish, you have to go all the way,” Shevchenko said. “I just started pushing hard and knew the finish was coming soon.”
Although Shevchenko didn’t name a specific opponent she would target next, UFC President Dana White said during the fight week that he would be interested in setting up a trilogy fight with Shevchenko. and two-division champion Amanda Nunes, probably at 135 pounds, despite Nunes holding two narrow wins by decision.
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“I’m ready for anyone, no matter the weight class or whatever,” Shevchenko said. “I am here, I am the champion.”