Valentina Shevchenko made a splash in her Octagon debut last year, stunning former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman.
Now, the 27-year-old from Kyrgyzstan has the chance to kickoff Saturday’s UFC 196 card with a bang when she meets top contender Amanda Nunes.
Shevchenko (12-1) owns a 2nd-degree black belt in Taekwondo and trains with some of the best of the best in the sport. She put together a 56-2 record in kickboxing, scoring a win over current UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk during her career.
Now, she has another shot to vault up the ladder against Nunes.
After winning her first seven pro bouts, Shevchenko suffered a 2010 loss to Liz Carmouche. She took nearly a year off from competing professional, but has since scored five straight victories.
Along with the win over Kaufman, she scored a decision last February vs. Jan Finney in Legacy FC. While her record is less than stellar, Finney has been competing in MMA since 2004 against the likes of Julie Kedzie, Shayna Baszler, Miesha Tate, Cris “Cyborg” Justino, Carmouche and UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm.
Nunes (11-4) provides Shevchenko with yet another test, as the Brazilian is 4-1 inside the Octagon, losing only to former title contender Cat Zingano. She’s picked up back-to-back finishes of Sara McMann and Baszler, having also stopped Germaine de Randamie and Sheila Gaff.
So, while it’s hard to say any bout is going to top either Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz or Holm-Tate, this one between Nunes and Shevchenko has all the makings of a break-neck 15-minute battle for bragging rights at 135 pounds.
FightLine will have complete coverage of Saturday’s card, including live play-by-play and results. We’ll also have you covered the rest of the week with all the latest breaking news and features for UFC 196.