The 11-fight event kicks off Saturday at 7 p.m. ET with two fights streaming on UFC Fight Pass. She'd just lost a razor-thin split decision to champion Amanda Nunes Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton in the main event of UFC 215, and she could hardly believe it.
"I wanted to show the world I'm here to stay", Nunes said. Two judges scored the bout 48-47 for Nunes while the third had it the same for the challenger.
With the win, Nunes improves to 15-4; Shevchenko falls to 14-3.
Nunes, nicknamed the Lioness, raised her arms as the decision was announced while numerous fans booed the verdict. "It literally happens. I could say I never would have thought Ian McCall would pull out of a fight, but it's happened". This was my first five round fight. The end result was Shevchenko on the ground, with the champion on her back. Shevchenko, a.k.a. Bullet, meanwhile, would look to get back in the title hunt.
UFC 215 Predictions: Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko 9/9/17
The 29-year-old walked to the side of the octagon, shaking her head in disbelief. "I was looking to stand and trade punches with him but when I felt that I could control his weight, I made a decision to go with that". Shevchenko also revealed that she dislocated her finger in the first round of the fight, but said it didn't really matter throughout the course of the fight. Nunes had to push back her second title defense after destroying Ronda Rousey previous year, and Shevchenko was denied her chance at proving that her UFC 196 loss to Nunes was a fluke, setting up the trilogy. Nunes, nicknamed The Lioness, took a unanimous decision over Shevchenko at UFC 196 in March 2016. Nunes was also highly criticized after pulling out of the UFC 213 bout, so she is likely to come in with a chip on her shoulder. In December she faced Ronda Rousey upon the ex-champ's return and Nunes wiped out Rousey in less than a minute.
In the co-main event, former lightweight title holder Rafael dos Anjos established himself as a real threat at welterweight by steamrolling through Neil Magny in the very first round. The 10th-ranked Brazilian is now 27-9-0. She earned a five-round decision win over Holly Holm last July and then followed that up with a second-round submission win over Julianna Pena in late-January.
Gilbert Melendez, dropping down to make his debut in featherweight, was cheered as he staggered up repeatedly from the canvas while taking a hellacious flurry of kicks and punches from eighth-ranked Jeremy Stephens.