The nascent women’s flyweight division took a big hit last weekend with the cancellation of a UFC 228 title bout between champion Nicco Montano and Valentina Shevchenko and it could take a high-profile matchup to get it back on track.
Could former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk move up to 125 pounds and take on Shevchenko?
The possibility was raised by host Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour on Monday during an interview with Shevchenko, and she was amenable to the idea of fighting Jedrzejczyk again. Shevchenko competed against Jedrzejczyk three times during their days as Muay Thai competitors, with Shevchenko claiming a trio of decision victories.
“We have our history with Joanna already in (Muay Thai) and now we have opportunity to start to create our history in MMA, mixed martial arts, under UFC rules,” Shevchenko said. “Why not?”
During her dominant reign at 115 pounds, Jedrzejczyk had mentioned the possibility of someday moving up to compete for a second belt, though she has since eased up on that talk after losing the strawweight title to Rose Namajunas and appears to be focused on regaining her championship.
Shevchenko hasn’t spoken to the UFC about a possible meeting with Jedrzejczyk or any specific opponent for that matter. The parties involved are still dealing with the fallout from UFC 228, where Shevchenko was supposed to fight Montano in the co-main event. Prior to the weigh-ins for that event, it was reported that Montano had been taken to the hospital (it was later discovered that this was due to complications with Montano’s weight cut) and her fight with Shevchenko was subsequently called off.
UFC president Dana White would go on to declare that Montano had been stripped of the women’s flyweight title, which Montano won last December in just her sixth professional fight (not including the three exhibition bouts she won on The Ultimate Fighter 26 to earn the championship opportunity). He added that the plan is for Shevchenko to compete for the vacant belt in the future.
Whoever it is that Shevchenko is eventually matched up with, she is just hoping that they are able to make it to fight night. This is the second time that Shevchenko has seen a championship opportunity fizzle less than 48 hours before she was supposed to compete. A women’s bantamweight title fight with Amanda Nunes had to be rescheduled last year when Nunes bowed out of UFC 213 with a sinus infection.
“I don’t know yet because I still didn’t speak with them about names. I don’t know nothing yet about opponents,” Shevchenko said. “But for me, it doesn’t matter who, I’m ready for anyone.
“And I really want to fight with an opponent who wants to fight, who will be able to compete and do everything professional. I would be very happy to have more professionals to face me, because in this case I want to be worried about having these problems [as opposed to] to having someone pull out in the last minute.”
Should Montano manage to fix her weight cutting issues and re-establish herself as the No. 1 contender, Shevchenko isn’t ruling out the two finally resolving their conflict inside the Octagon. But Shevchenko questioned whether winning the title so early in her career was too much too soon for Montano, and she expects it to be a long road back to contention for the former champion,
“She has to fight, she has to prove that she’s come back, and really deserve it,” Shevchenko said. “She has to prove it. She has to face the real big names, she has to test herself now.”
This article first appeared at MMA Fighting – All Posts