Shevchenko, who trains out of Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, put on the performance of her career in dishing out a win over the No. 2 ranked bantamweight fighter in the world – handily defeating the same woman who knocked-out Ronda Rousey under a year ago.
The bout was also the first non-title women’s main event for the UFC, showing just how highly-regarded both women are in delivering the pain.
“I could see why it would be shocking to people who don’t know who Valentina is, but if you’ve been following her for the past few years and watching her fights, you wouldn’t be too shocked by that win,” says Christopher Vamos, 2nd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and instructor at Tiger Muay Thai.
The 28-year-old Shevchenko first began training in Phuket in early 2014, winning several bouts in Muay Thai, kickboxing and mixed martial arts before and after her long stint in Southern Thailand.
As a 17-time world Muay Thai champion, it was only natural for Shevchenko to seek out training on our little island, but it was the level of competitiveness and variety of martial arts that have kept her in Phuket.
“We train with her on a daily basis and we know how good she is, very well-rounded,” says George Hickman, the head MMA and Wrestling coach at Tiger. “I think this was her best fight to date.”
In defeating Holm, Shevchenko has firmly put herself in the conversation for a possible title shot against Amanda Nunes, whom Shevchenko lost a split decision to back in March in a close bout.
At the post-fight press conference following the UFC on FOX 20 event, Shevchenko said Nunes was “scared” and that “I’m ready for five rounds, for sure. I will take whoever I need to fight next. But I think [Nunes] is definitely scared.”
The Kyrgyzstan native’s confidence is at an all-time high, especially given what she’s had to go through in the past few months before the most important bout of her life.
Back on May 29, Shevchenko and her trainer Pavel Fedotov were dining at a restaurant in Lima, Peru when two men with guns stormed in attempting to rob the place. Fedotov, who also had a pistol on him, attacked the men but was shot in the ensuing incident. Though he’s made a full-recovery, Shevchenko’s resolve was put to the test.
“She had a lot of drama happen in a couple of months, which makes it an ever bigger win because she didn’t let that affect her and get into her head,” Hickman says.
In a previous interview with The Phuket News, Shevchenko spoke about her penchant for training in the Peruvian jungle, comparing it to Phuket in terms of pure focus.
“Here, it is relaxing but with world-class training. You can keep your head down, maintain focus, and just keep the training going,” she said in 2014.
What’s next for Shevchenko is up to the UFC, and whether her next bout is for the title or not, those who know her in Phuket are happy to see her finally get the recognition.
“She’s really composed as a fighter, you could see no matter the position she’s in she’s very calm and prepared. She’s very composed and mentally tough, putting in a lot of time to her training over the years,” Vamos says.