Valentina Shevchenko is fast running out of challenging opponents in the UFC. The flyweight champion cruised to a dominant TKO victory over Jessica Andrade at UFC 261, and reaffirmed her standing as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
The only blemish on her resume is the pair of losses she suffered to Amanda Nunes, who is widely considered the greatest female fighter of all time. Despite both fights ending in Nunes' favor, there have been a number of calls among the MMA community to book the trilogy fight.
Both Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes are clearly a cut above the rest in the women's UFC divisions. Here are 5 reasons why Shevchenko will emerge victorious in a potential third meeting against Nunes.
#5 Valentina Shevchenko has been Amanda Nunes' biggest test in the UFC
Since making her UFC debut in 2013 against Sheila Gaff, Amanda Nunes has torn through the featherweight and bantamweight divisions. She has only one loss since then, to Cat Zingano at UFC 178, and has easily defended her titles in both divisions on most occasions.
Nunes' biggest test in the UFC so far has undoubtedly been Valentina Shevchenko. Some of the best female fighters in UFC history have been either knocked out or submitted by her - Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey, to name a few.
But Shevchenko has managed to take Nunes to not one but two decisions, the second of which was a highly controversial split decision that many felt should've gone in favor of 'Bullet'. She had clearly taken less damage than Nunes, and while it wasn't a robbery, it could've easily gone the other way.
Shevchenko has been Nunes' biggest test in the UFC, and she could exact her revenge after making a few minor adjustments.
#4 Valentina Shevchenko is constantly improving
Since her second loss to Amanda Nunes, Valentina Shevchenko has improved at a rapid rate. Her striking has become even crisper; she has been far more willing to engage with her opponents instead of relying on counter-punching; her grappling has consistently been on the rise.
Shevchenko is an advanced version of the woman who pushed Nunes to the limit back in 2017. She has racked up title defence after title defence, many of which have gone the distance and given her a substantial amount of Octagon time and experience.
Nunes, meanwhile, has sparked almost all of her opponents since narrowly outlasting Shevchenko. In the process, she hasn't been tested as often as she'd like heading into a potential fight with 'Bullet'. Three of her six fights in that time period have ended in the first round, and any improvements she may have made to her game have been masked by her utter dominance.
Shevchenko, at 33 years of age, is close to reaching her prime as a fighter. This would give her a significant advantage when compared to the previous two fights against Nunes.
#3 Valentina Shevchenko has the ability to negate Amanda Nunes' power
The biggest reason behind Amanda Nunes' success in the UFC has been her freak knockout power. But in Valentina Shevchenko, she will once again meet an opponent who has the ability to negate this power and even use it to her advantage.
Shevchenko is defensively very sound, especially when compared to the other fighters Nunes has dominated like Rousey and Tate. With her nimble footwork, sharp head movement and counter-attacking style, the Kyrgystani-Peruvian fighter has proved that she isn't fazed by Nunes' strength.
In fact, Shevchenko could even use it to her advantage by getting Nunes to commit early, drag the fight to the championship rounds, and wear 'The Lioness' down.
Shevchenko's recent fight against Jessica Andrade could give her the blueprint to overcome Nunes' power. 'Bate Estaca' was expected to threaten the flyweight champ on the feet, with Rose Namajunas even claiming that she hasn't fought too many people who hit harder than Andrade.
But Shevchenko turned in a masterful performance, adding weight to the argument that Nunes' biggest advantage won't mean much in a potential clash.
#2 Valentina Shevchenko is technically perfect
Extremely experienced in kickboxing and Muay Thai, Valentina Shevchenko amassed a 57-2 record over the course of a 12-year period before entering the world of MMA. With various tournament wins and accolades to her name, the 33-year-old's ironclad technique is built on strong fundamentals.
Judicious with how she expends energy, Shevchenko is as technical as they come in MMA. She's brutal with her kicks, which she has an entire arsenal of and has used to put multiple opponents to sleep in the past. She's also next to perfect with her defense and counter-striking, which relies on impeccable timing and accuracy.
Shevchenko may not be considered the women's MMA GOAT at this point in time, but if we're talking about technical acumen alone, she's probably the best we've ever seen.
#1 Valentina Shevchenko has no apparent weaknesses
Following her dominant victory over Jessica Andrade at UFC 261, Valentina Shevchenko made it a point to let people know that there are no weaknesses in her game.
Many strikers have struggled to improve their grappling over the years, but Shevchenko has fine-tuned that aspect of her game on end. Apart from being efficient and precise with her striking, she has developed solid takedown defense and submission offense off her back, in addition to her prowess in top position.
The end result is a physical specimen that has no apparent shortcomings. Amanda Nunes too is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the game, but she'll meet her match in Valentina Shevchenko.