Valentina Shevchenko returns to the octagon for her first fight in 2022, and she has a fresh new matchup in front of her, but the flyweight champion has done her homework and is looking to destroy her.
With Shevchenko being the dominant champion that she is, it might be easy to assume she goes into her fights nonchalantly but that is entirely false. Instead, she studies her opponents to the point that destruction is on her mind when he gets into the cage.
Taila Santos is no different.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, Shevchenko explained her process.
“No matter how she came into this opportunity to fight for the title – she’s here, she deserved it. She showed that in the previous fights, that she’s a tough opponent, strong opponent with a lot of power,” Shevchenko said. “But my goal, it’s not just like, looking in her fight game. And like say, ‘oh my god, she’s so powerful, whatever.’ My saying is to see where are her holes and where can I destroy her. So no, not to admire her, but to destroy. When I start to study my opponent, this is what I focused into. And definitely, I understand that she is very strong. Yes, maybe she didn’t have that much time [in the octagon]. But you cannot take her power away…. So yeah, and I’m not considering it. I don’t take it, I just see who is my opponent. Next, right now at this moment, where she good, where is she bad? And what should I do to be in there and just show full martial arts.”
When asked if she thinks she has the Mike Tyson effect, where her opponents are already defeated before they enter the octagon, the flyweight champion revealed she doesn’t think about that and says she doesn’t want to put that in her head.
“I cannot get into the head and what [my opponents are] thinking. I don’t know what’s happening in their mind at that point. But also I don’t want to put it into my head and start to believe that everyone is scared and it’s gonna benefit me,” Shevchenko said. “Because I think that I really fight the best version of my opponents and they are preparing for their fight”
“That’s what made me prepare the best that I can for my fight. So, I don’t want to take nothing of these seeds and put it in my head. No, no I’m not thinking about that. I think backwards that they are not scared and that they are ready to fight till the end and this is what made me even more ready to fight till the end.”
Shevchenko fights Santos this weekend in the co-main event of UFC 275. Stick to MiddleEasy for all of the coverage.