Valentina Shevchenko has never looked past any opponent and that certainly won’t change for her upcoming title fight at UFC 231 against former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
For more than two years, Jedrzejczyk reigned as champion in the 115-pound division, running roughshod over virtually every contender who stepped in her path while she was always in the conversation as the top pound-for-pound women’s fighter on the planet.
Throughout her reign, Jedrzejczyk’s biggest enemy may have been the brutal weight cuts she endured to get down to the strawweight limit but she won’t have those same problems when fighting at flyweight this weekend.
In fact just earlier this week on a episode of ‘UFC Embedded’ filmed this past Sunday — five days ahead of UFC 231 — Jedrzejczyk said she was weighing just over 129 pounds.
As easy as the weight cut may be this time around, Shevchenko says that Jedrzejczyk is in for a rude awakening when she feels the power of a true flyweight this weekend.
“Strawweight, they have one power. In flyweight, they have totally different power,” Shevchenko told MMAWeekly ahead of her fight. “You can be the best one in the strawweight but here it’s a totally different field. This is not someone who has less power than you. This is someone who has more power than you. This is where I feel this is my field, this is my territory.”
The two fighters competed against each other three times previously in Muay Thai competitions more than a decade ago but Shevchenko came out on top on all three occasions.
Obviously, Jedrzejczyk is a different fighter for mixed martial arts than she was for Muay Thai kickboxing but Shevchenko still feels like the diversity of her game will be more than the former strawweight queen can handle on Saturday night.
“Of course my base and my favorite thing is striking and I will do a lot of striking because I love this game,” Shevchenko stated. “Joanna she’s a perfect striker and she goes forward every time and she’s good with her hands but I can do long distance striking, short distance striking. I can do back fists, spinning kicks, I have more options and I can show the better striking.”
The end goal for all of this is to become the UFC women’s flyweight champion and Shevchenko refuses to let anybody take that away from her.
Shevchenko has already gone through a roller coaster ride in 2018 with delays and fight cancellations just waiting for this opportunity but that doesn’t even come close to telling the story about how much she’s going to appreciate having that title wrapped around her waist.
“It’s not about only this situation we have recently. If you can see all my life, I’ve been training since a very young age. I’ve been competing in so many different competitions, so many different opponents, and so many different countries.
“I don’t know who else more than me can appreciate the belt. I was training all my life, I know how it’s difficult, I know what it’s like to go through the smaller promotions. I know how much it costs.”