Many fans thought Valentina Shevchenko was unbeatable and the matchup with Taila Santos would be another easy win for the reigning flyweight queen … they were wrong about half of that. Shevchenko got the win via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46) but it was not easy.
“Everytime you have to find something to improve,” she said. “I left my heart in here.”
There wasn’t much action in the first round, a start contrast from the WMMA fight which happened just moments before. Shevchenko stood in the middle of the Octagon for much of the round before they initiated the clinch and found against the fence. But then, out of nowhere Santos got Shevchenko to the mat, took her back and went looking for a rear-naked choke. She wasn’t able to get it before the round ended but Shevchenko was in danger and it was exciting for the fans to see it.
In the second round Santos secured a takedown and scrambled with Shevchenko throughout the round but it was close and depending on how the judges saw it, the round could have gone to Shevchenko.
The third round was stalled for a moment when Shevchenko came out to start the fight without her mouth piece. Again Santos takes Shevchenko to the mat as the announcers debate who is winning each round and who might be winning the fight overall. Again she gets her into a rear-naked choke, this time much more dangerous than the first, but with only seconds left in the round she couldn’t find the finish.
In the championship rounds Santos faded and fast. She ate a bad headbutt which swelled up her eye to limit half of her vision. From there Shevchenko was able to land some hard strikes and leg kicks earning a sure win for round 4, despite a big takedown for Santos at the end.
The final round started with the doctor checking Santos’ eye, the doctor cleared her to continue.
A flurry early in the round saw the women struggle for control before Santos took control with Shevchenko in her arms. The separated and the crowd went positively wild with just three minutes remaining in the round. This time it was Shevchenko who secured the takedown with just over two minutes remaining in the round. The commentary team seemed to think the fight rested on who the judges scored the third round for.
Santos was riding a four fight win streak with wins over Joanne Wood, Roxanne Modafferi, Jillian Robertson and Molly McCann. Shevchenko, on the other hand, hasn’t lost a fight since 2017 when she fell to Amanda Nunes, who many believe to the be the WMMA GOAT.