UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko passed Jennifer Maia’s tough test at UFC 255 on Saturday in Las Vegas. Although Maia is tough and puts pressure on Shevchenko, the champion proves why she is considered one of the top fighters on the planet. Shevchenko has been a star during his tenure at UFC. Although he lost once – to Liz Carmouche – before stepping onto the Octagon, the only fighter to lose under the UFC banner was Amanda Nunes, widely considered to be one of the greatest fighters of all time. Shevchenko looked sharp with his hands at the start, but surprisingly grabbed and threw Maia onto his back in the opening minutes of the opening half. Maia did a good job trying to tie Shevchenko’s arms, but couldn’t stop the pepper and elbow blows. However, he managed to escape with minimal damage. Shevchenko grabbed and brought Maia to the canvas as soon as the second round opened, but the challengers immediately fled and put Shevchenko on the fence. Shevchenko tries to fight his way out, but Maia ends up placing him on the canvas. The second round was a solid framework for Maia, who worked from within Shevchenko’s half guard and full guard for the rest of the round, controlling the championship. After spending most of the second frame on his back, Shevchenko went head hunting in the third round. He took a few sharp shots in the early moments of the frame before Maia briefly returned him to the fence. Shevchenko escaped and returned to his sharp shot, landing a head kick followed moments later by a blistering combination. After stung Maia, Shevchenko grabbed her and dragged her back onto the canvas. The champion began training from half guard, but Maia used her jiu-jitsu skills to bring the fight back to its feet, and once again pinned Shevchenko against the fence. In the last 10 seconds of the third round, Shevchenko scored another takedown, possibly enough to secure the round. Towards the fourth frame, it appears that Shevchenko is likely to have a 29-28 lead on the scorecard. Blood dripping from the noses of the two women, Shevchenko stung early with a hard left hand to open up the fourth half. Finding his distance, Shevchenko fired a few more shots in the first two minutes of the round. Maia answered with a firm right hand, but Shevchenko reached over and placed Maia on his back again, quickly pinning him against the fence. Shevchenko put his fist on Maia’s face and punched him in the shoulder until he could advance to the top spot, even though he was still half Maia’s defense. It was another strong round for Shevchenko, which left Maia needing a finish to win the fight towards the finals. Shevchenko stabs Maia with a jab, but misses with a spinning backfist, finding her back against the fence. He quickly turned around and fled, however, once again sticking his jab into Maia’s face. Maia rushed forward, only to face Shevchenko’s blitz. After the storm, Maia grabbed and pressed Shevchenko against the fence. The champion escapes again, injuring Maia with another combination of strokes. While defending, Maia’s face was covered in blood, as Shevchenko continued to fire with his punches and kicks. Maia did not back down, but had no answer to Shevchenko’s star attack. Maia occasionally snuck in power shots, but wore evidence of Shevchenko’s punch and elbow on her face. The judges viewed the fight unanimously, 49-46 on all three scorecards, for the champion. The victory was Shevchenko’s fourth flyingweight title defense, keeping him in the air as one of the greatest fighters on the planet. TRENDING> Invicta FC 43 Highlights: Kayla Harrison won in a brutal way “I’m glad it’s been five rounds. After a long absence, I need to feel the fighting spirit, ”said Shevchenko after the fight, admitting he suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury earlier in the year that required surgery. “It’s the MCL. It’s an operation. So we just need a few extra months to make sure (fully recover). “With the win over Maia, Shevchenko could be the target to defend his belt against Jessica Andrade, who recently replaced Kaitlyn Chookagian as number 1 challenger in the UFC women’s flyingweight division.
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