Valentina Shevchenko was set to fight UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 213, but Nunes pulled out of the bout on the day of the show.
Just hours before the show, the title holder Nunes backed out of the fight when she was hospitalized with an illness later confirmed to be sinusitis. The situation but the UFC in a bind, and ended up contributing to one of the company's all-time worst pay-per-view numbers.
Since that fateful day, the title challenger Shevchenko feels that she has only gotten stronger. The fight was rescheduled, and the two will compete on September 9 in the co-main event of UFC 215
“No, it (the UFC 213 fight being canceled) helped, it just postpones my target and my goal for just two months. I’m ready, I’m ready for this. It doesn’t matter how much I have to wait, I don’t do it for the same goal. I feel much stronger than I was before,” Shevchenko said to Fightful.com correspondent Kendrick Johnson at UFC Media Day last week.
This is going to be the second meeting between the two women's 135 pound combatants. The two first met in the cage just last year at UFC 196. Nunes was able to secure a unanimous decision victory in the March 2016 bout. With the upcoming contest being a championship bout, it's scheduled for five rounds. While Nunes has competed in two title fights, going past the third round is uncharted territory for her, and Shevchenko is the only opponent she's defeated after round two.
Shevchenko is a little more well-versed in longer fights. She's competed in several five-round kickboxing fights, and main evented July 2016's UFC on Fox show by going the distance and pulling out a win over former UFC Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm. In addition, She's found significant success in the later rounds, going 4-1 if a fight goes past the second round.
Some would worry that the champion may pull out of the fight again, but that is not something that concerns the challenger. There has been much talk of "The Bullet" possibly moving down to UFC's new 125-pound Flyweight division. If Nunes ends up withdrawing yet again, it would appear that Shevchenko will be steadfast in her pursuit of the 135-pound championship, because she claims that she'd put the brakes on her career to hold out for Nunes yet again.
“I hope she would not (pull out of the fight), I would wait for her, but I do not think about it much because I am focused on my preparation. I will be ready for the fight, as good as I was ready for UFC 213,” says Shevchenko.
UFC 215 takes place on Saturday, September 9 from Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow. Make sure to check out the Holy Smokes MMA Podcast every Tuesday for news, previews, breakdowns and more.