This weekend sees UFC 261 take place in Jacksonville, Florida. While all the hype is on the main event, arguably, the UFC’s most dominant champion is also in action.
So is Shevchenko really the most dominant champion in the UFC right now? Here are three reasons why she most certainly is.
#1 No other UFC champion dominates the competition quite like her
The UFC has a number of other champions who could be considered dominant right now. The likes of Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya, for instance, have put together numerous title defences after claiming their respective titles.
But while those fighters have impressed against top opponents, they’ve also looked slightly less convincing at times.
Adesanya struggled to get past Yoel Romero in a somewhat dull fight, for example, while Usman was dropped by Gilbert Burns before recovering to defeat him. However, that hasn’t been the case at all with Valentina Shevchenko.
‘The Bullet’ has never been in trouble in any of her UFC fights in Flyweight. In fact, it could well be argued that she’s never even come close to being tested. Jessica Eye, Liz Carmouche and Katlyn Chookagian were all largely outclassed by ‘The Bullet’.
The UFC’s announcers were so desperate to sell Jennifer Maia as a potential threat to Shevchenko that they were willing to go crazy over some small successes she had in her title fight. Of course, the Brazilian never really stood a chance and fell to a clear-cut unanimous decision.
There’s actually an easy argument to make that Shevchenko has actually won 22 straight rounds in the UFC, which is ridiculous and puts her at a similar level as Georges St. Pierre, the greatest UFC fighter of all time.
So how can one argue with that kind of dominance?
#2 Valentina Shevchenko is the only fighter to push UFC Bantamweight and Featherweight champion Amanda Nunes
Despite her domination of the UFC Flyweight division, Valentina Shevchenko is only ranked as the #2 pound-for-pound female fighter in the UFC.
That’s understandable because the great Amanda Nunes is ranked #1, which should come as no surprise.
‘The Lioness’ is generally recognised as the greatest female fighter not just in UFC history but in MMA history too. She’s one of just a handful of UFC fighters to hold titles in two different weight classes simultaneously, and incredibly, Nunes is happy to defend both, too.
Nunes has destroyed numerous great fighters over the years, including Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg and Miesha Tate. However, the one fighter to really test her was Valentina Shevchenko.
‘The Bullet’ has fought Nunes on two different occasions. The first fight – at UFC 196 in 2016 – saw her lose a tight decision despite dominating the fight late on. Their second fight main at UFC 215 went to a razor-close split decision that went Nunes’ way, despite many fans scoring the fight for Shevchenko.
So when you consider that ‘The Bullet’ is a naturally smaller fighter than Nunes and now fights in a weight class 20lbs below her, there’s definitely a case to suggest that she’s the better fighter pound-for-pound.
If nothing else, the fact that Shevchenko pushed Nunes harder than anyone else should prove that she’s a ridiculously talented fighter who is clearly dominant like no other UFC champion.
#3 Valentina Shevchenko is putting together title defences at a remarkable rate
Plenty of past UFC champions have strung together an impressive number of title defences. Right now, the record for most UFC title defences is held by Demetrious Johnson, who has managed 11. The great Anderson Silva sits one behind him with ten, while Georges St. Pierre had nine.
Johnson was renowned for being one of the UFC’s most active champions, and it took him just over two years to put together his first five title defences. Silva, meanwhile, was a little slower, and it took him nearly three years before he reached five defences; St. Pierre took a similar amount of time.
Based on her current rate of activity, Valentina Shevchenko is well on her way to joining these three greats in the UFC record books. She won the UFC Flyweight title in December 2018 and is set to make her fifth title defence this weekend, just over two years later.
Considering the way ‘The Bullet’ runs through her foes with little difficulty, assuming she stays injury-free, she could easily match Johnson’s record in the near future.
While it is true that, like Johnson, Shevchenko fights in an arguably weaker UFC division, a fighter can only ever beat the opponents put in front of them. Given the ease with which she puts together title defences – just like the three greats mentioned above – it’s hard to dispute Shevchenko's status as the UFC’s most dominant champion right now.