Jennifer Maia took to Twitter when she smothered champion Valentina Shevchenko in the second round of their flyweight title fight on Saturday at UFC 255.
Imagine what Jessica Andrade would do, asked UFC President Dana White after Shevchenko regained control and won the fight.
Maia was a huge underdog to dethrone the champion, reaching as high as +1100 on several online betting sites. Shevchenko, who easily won the first round of the bout, never looked back after losing the stage and got 49-46 scorecards with all three judges after 25 minutes.
White was asked if Shevchenko shouldn’t be paired with two-division champion Amanda Nunes, who has beaten her twice and appears to be the only challenge the flyweight champion is far from guaranteed to win. But the UFC executive sees Andrade as a much better option.
“I think Andrade vs Shevchenko is a very fun fight, and what I love about this fight is that Shevchenko is at a point in her career where she needs an opponent that people think she is. he has a chance to beat her, and I think we all know Andrade knows it, ”White said.
Andrade moved to the flyweight division earlier this year after losing the belt to current champion Zhang Weili, then lost a split decision to ex-champion Rose Namajunas in a rematch of the fight she won for win the title.
Once a bantamweight, Andrade fought above his natural weight class for his UFC career debut. In her first performance at 125 pounds, she stopped title challenger Katlyn Chookagian with a bullet to the body. It’s that power that makes her a threat to everyone, White said.
“If you want to go out and be safe against someone like Jennifer, what are you going to do against Andrade?” the UFC executive asked Shevchenko. “Andrade is going to bring her a lot of things that she’s never seen before, not to mention Andrade’s power.
“She just hit the second girl in the world with a bullet to the body. She is a real problem for Shevchenko who [Shevchenko is] is going to have to figure it out, and if she does, I think the fight that makes the most sense is that Zhang will be fighting here soon, and after Weili’s fights, maybe you will do those two.
Weili, the current 115-pound champion, is much earlier in her tenure as champion, having defended the belt for the first time against once-dominant defending champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a “fight of the year” candidate. So far, she has yet to face the criticisms that have followed Shevchenko in much more tactical than explosive fights.
Until the championship rounds, Shevchenko vs. Maia worked at times, with both fighters more eager to clinch and maintain their ground position than to fall out or clash. Where Maia turned the storyline was in her ability to control the champion for five minutes, creating the impression of a more even fight.
Dominant champions are often grieved that they didn’t win their previous career finals, but White disagrees that Shevchenko played it safe.
“She has nothing to do,” he said. “Keep doing what you’re doing. You can’t listen to f * cking fans and the media. You fight your own fight. You fight like you have to fight. It’s not like she’s been lying down and prayed over someone for everything. She separated her at the end of this fight.
“I guess from all the fights I’ve seen Maia’s nose was broken. It looked like a bad road; his nose was going in different directions. When you dominate someone like she has, you don’t have to listen to anyone else. Just keep doing what you’re doing.
If anything, Shevchenko has proven that she can engage fans with a slight slip. The odds of the live betting that placed her as the favorite plummeted after this second round. A better would have bet $ 12,000 on Shevchenko to win just $ 600.
“I bet you knucklehead… was panicking in the second round,” White smirked. “But even though she lost the second round, she looked completely dominant tonight.