Amanda Nunes Edges Valentina Shevchenko by Split Decision in UFC 215 Main Event

September 10, 2017

Amanda Nunes promised she was ready for five rounds against Valentina Shevchenko and she proved it with a split decision victory to defend her women’s bantamweight title for the second time in the UFC 215 main event.

The fight on Saturday night was originally supposed to take place in July, but Nunes suffered from a severe sinus problem that forced her to drop out of the bout just a day away from the event. Two months later the fight was rescheduled with Nunes promising that she would deliver a victory in her rematch with Shevchenko after the two fighters engaged in another back and forth battle in 2016.

This time around, Nunes opted for a much more tactical strategy that may not have been as pleasing to the Edmonton crowd, but it got the job done nevertheless.

Rather than blitzing with a barrage of punches as the fight got underway, Nunes instead opted for a more technical attack from the outside while peppering away at Shevchenko’s legs with a variety of kicks.

It was a very tactical game plan from Nunes, who continued to chop away with leg kicks until finally unleashing a couple of hard punches before the end of the round.

Shevchenko started to get her timing down more in the second round, landing a pair of Superman punches that tagged Nunes from the outside. Shevchenko’s footwork and movement helped her settle into a rhythm as she started to land her most significant shots of the fight thus far.

While neither fighter mounted a ton of offense, Shevchenko was more active with a few more punches and kicks landed including a stiff right hand that clipped Nunes before time expired in the second.

Nunes started to leap in with more regularity but Shevchenko was so quick to get out of the way before coming back with rapid-fire counter shots. The adjustment from Nunes was to start using more of her leg kicks again while Shevchenko was siting back just waiting to unleash a big combination but it never came.

There was a ton of respect being shown between the two fighters as Nunes continued to press forward with Shevchenko looking for the perfect counter strikes.

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Both Nunes and Shevchenko were more active in the fourth round after the coaches for the fighters emphasized more strikes being thrown. Nunes kept plodding forward trying to walk down the No. 1 ranked contender but that aggression started to open up more opportunities for Shevchenko to land quick, counter punches.

Again and again, Shevchenko started to find a home for her punches each time Nunes would lunge forward with a power shot. The left hand was especially effective for Shevchenko as her confidence started to grow while Nunes looked a bit frustrated as the horn sounded.

With only five minutes remaining, Nunes went for her first takedown of the fight as she pressed Shevchenko against the cage wall but she couldn’t bring the action down to the mat. Rather than exerting some undue energy, Nunes shrugged off the takedown and got back to the center.

Shevchenko stayed composed after the reset in the middle of the Octagon but Nunes was relentless until she finally dug deep and landed her first takedown with less than a minute to go. That takedown may have ultimately been the difference in a grueling battle that saw both fighters have their moments over 25-minutes in the cage together.

When the final horn sounded, Nunes started shouting at Shevchenko, who then kicked at her until referee John McCarthy stepped into ensure the fight was stopped.

Cooler heads prevailed as Nunes and Shevchenko eventually embraced in the center of the Octagon but when the decision was read it was clear that this rivalry may be far from over.

The judges ultimately scored the fight as a split decision with Nunes getting the win with two scorecards in her favor 48-47 with the third going to Shevchenko 48-47.

“I decided with my coach at the end of the [fifth] round, let’s take her down,” Nunes said about the crucial takedown in the final round. “I know she’s going to be tired and I know I’m going to get her and it happened tonight.”

While it was definitely a close fight, Nunes says she wasn’t worried about the result after feeling she had done more than enough to earn the victory on Saturday night.

“I’m not concerned at anything,” Nunes said. “I knew in the last round I’m going to go to the takedown and I did take the round from it.”

As Nunes was celebrating her win, Shevchenko was dejected in the other corner as she felt completely confident when the fight was over that she should be wearing the title around her waist.

“I really don’t understand why the victory go to the other side. For two takedowns? For all five rounds? She didn’t hit me not one time, not one punch,” Shevchenko said. “Nothing significant.

“Look at her face. Her nose is red from my punches. I really don’t understand. Even when I was on the ground, I hit very hard from the back position. I really don’t understand why. She didn’t win this fight.”

Obviously, Shevchenko wasn’t satisfied with the judges’ scorecards as she falls to Nunes for the second time in her career. Given how close the fight was over five rounds it’s definitely possible they could see each other again in the future but for now Nunes will put Shevchenko behind her as she moves onto the next challenge in her championship reign.

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