Throughout her title reign thus far, UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko has been nothing short of dominant. She’s defended the strap four-straight times since winning it in 2018, for example, and not only that, but she’s seemingly made it look easy each time out.
Most recently, she scored a clear unanimous decision victory over Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 last month, and given how successful she’s been against the division’s top names, many have begun to argue that she may suffer from a lack of competition.
While that may become an issue at some point, it certainly isn’t at this very moment, as Shevchenko has a legitimate contender waiting for her in former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade, who recently moved up in weight and scored a vicious first-round TKO victory over former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian this past October.
Following Schevchenko’s victory over Maia, UFC President Dana White expressed his interest in a bout between “The Bullet” and Andrade and the Brazilian feels as if she’s a real “problem” for the champion.
“I am very happy, Dana was very nice in his comments,” she told UFC.com. “And I think he’s right, I’m really a problem for her. I respect her a lot, I know she has been a very imposing champion and is very difficult to beat, but I believe that my game is very dangerous for her fighting style.
“I believe that my differentials are my power, my speed, my conditioning, the fact that I can take shots and absorb them well. That’s what makes me so dangerous in this weight class. And it was great to hear the boss talking about me, it’s a sign that I’m being remembered.”
There’s no denying Andrade’s claims as she has consistently proven to be a physically strong and aggressive fighter with a well-rounded skill set. Whether that skill set matches up well against Shevchenko’s, however, remains to be seen but it’s tough to argue against Andrade being deserving of a shot.
Prior to her win over Maia, the Brazilian had lost two straight against the 115-pound division’s elite in Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas, but prior to that, she had won four consecutive fights including a brutal victory over Namajunas in their first fight. And now, she’s back in the win column and once again ready to challenge for UFC gold.
As far as when a fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade could take place, it appears as if the challenger is aiming for early next year.
“We will see if this fight happens in March or April”.
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.