Headlining the event is a flyweight title fight between UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) and the No. 4 ranked Alex Perez (24-5), an absolutely incredible fight, though Perez is a replacement for former UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt (12-3).
Co-headlining the event is another flyweight title fight, this one of course for the women’s belt, as Women’s UFC Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) aims to make the fourth-straight defense of her title against the No. 3 ranked Jennifer Maia (18-6-1).
Joanne Calderwood was initially supposed to be the one challenging Shevchenko for her belt, but took a fight with Maia in order to stay active, and was submitted (armbar) in round one.
Maia may be unknown to some, but she was the Invicta FC Flyweight Champion coming into the UFC. She’d already gone five rounds three times before joining the worlds leading promotion, just once less than the defending champion.
These two are both incredibly well versed; they’re both professional boxers, Shevchenko going 2-0, Maia going 3-0. Maia boasts black belts in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, and Shevchenko is a multiple-time kickboxing (56-2) world champion, and also boasts a black belt in Judo.
We knew one thing coming into this fight, we’re in for a high level battle!
Shevchenko secured a head throw about 40 seconds into round one and stayed in Maia’s guard for the remaining four-plus minutes of the round. The champion kept her posture very low, not allowing Maia to move her hips and throw her legs up.
She was however able to get ground-and-pound off, not much of it, but enough to not get stood up.
Shevchenko opened up the round with a nasty spinning back kick that landed beautifully, before Maia pressed her for a grappling exchange. Shevchenko got a body lock takedown, but Maia was right back up and secured a takedown of her own. Maia won the rest of the round, which was about four minutes of it.
Maia kept Shevchenko up against the fence with double underhooks for a couple minutes, but eventually took the champion down and controlled her for the rest of the round.
Shevchenko landed numerous overhand lefts early on in round three, and she was doing a good job sticking and moving. Maia ended up tying up with her, but the champion was able to separate back to striking range.
Shevchenko secures another body lock takedown and stays on top for a short period of time. Maia worked her way back to her feet and ate a vicious knee to her body on the way up. Maia tried taking Shevchenko down, but was reversed and slammed at the very end of the round.
Valentina Shevchenko lands a hard left cross right out of the gate and keeps the distance using her footwork and boxing early on. She secured yet another body lock takedown, this time right into side control. She took Maia’s back, but Maia was wise to the position and rolled to her back, giving the champion half guard.
Shevchenko ends the round on top striking the bottomed Maia.
Maia tied up with Shevchenko and tried immediately for a takedown, but was ultimately unsuccessful with it. This is where Shevchenko really started to open up and land some hard strikes.
She landed numerous hard punches and an even nastier spinning back kick to the body of Maia, before she was again tied up with. Maia tried for an arm drag while she had the champions back to the fence, but was unsuccessful with it and was back on the fence with Shevchenko’s back to it.
This time Maia tried for a takedown and ate an elbow for it, just before Shevchenko separated and was back to the center. Shevchenko really pieced Maia up in this round when they were at striking range. Maia landed a snap kick to Shevchenko’s face with about a minute left on the clock, but it didn’t faze the champion.
Maia tried for one more takedown attempt, but was again unsuccessful. Shevchenko proved she was a true champion tonight. Maia made a mid-fight adjustment in round two, and Shevchenko made adjustments for the rest of the fight and overcame adversity for the first time since her Amanda Nunes rematch.
Official Result: Valentina Shevchenko def. Jennifer Maia via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)