Had everything gone right for Valentina Shevchenko, the Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian UFC bantamweight contender would’ve closed the “Amanda Nunes” chapter of her career two months ago. That is when “Bullet” was supposed to take on the promotion’s 135-pound champion before UFC 213’s headliner fell apart at the last minute with Nunes calling in sick.
At least that was the reasoning that the champion’s team gave. But Shevchenko isn’t having none of it.
“Do I believe [Nunes’ reasoning for cancelling the fight]? No”, Shevchenko told reporters during a recent media scrum. “I don’t believe in this history about sinusitis, all these things. I don’t believe this. The real reason why she pulled out I think is she cut too much weight in 24 hours and she was feeling too weak. This is the real reason.”
Despite appearing to be fairly angry and frustrated with her opponent at the time, Shevchenko claimed that she doesn’t have any hard feelings towards Nunes.
“I’m not angry with her, because she is my opponent and I have to pass through her, and nothing more. And this feeling [of anger] is just not good for the fight. I know exactly what I have to do in the fight, and to make things happen, I have to keep my mind cold.”
“I never met with my opponents, because for me, she is my opponent. It’s like, just one obstacle before my way, before my goal to win the title. How can I be mad? No, I cannot be mad, because I focus on my fight. And for the fight, I have to have my mind very, very cold, to make the right decisions.”
With that cold mind, the Thaiboxing expert believes that she can indeed make the right decisions to get the job done that she failed at 18 months ago. When the two strikers met at UFC 196 in March of last year, Shevchenko survived two hard rounds to rally back in the third, which wasn’t enough to convince the judges that night. Or to finish the fight, which is what the 29-year-old is planning on doing this week in Edmonton, Alberta during the co-main event of UFC 215.
“It’s difficult to say if it is worse or better”, Shevchenko said when asked if it might’ve been a good thing that she had more time to prepare for her title shot after it was pushed back two months. According to her, she took a week of rest to recover from a hard training camp before she slowly ramped preparation up again to peak once more in September. “For me, there is really no reason to worry about or to think about, because the one thing that I have to be sure is to feel great for the fight […] and to finish the fight and to do [an] excellent job in the Octagon.”
To be able to do that, hard feelings must go out the window once she steps foot inside the cage. That’s why despite her irritation regarding how things went back in July during “International Fight Week”, Shevchenko promises to keep focused on what her real task is.
“It was difficult to believe, really difficult to believe that [withdrawing from fights on such short notice] is happening at this level of competition. But, when you’re starting to think, you spend too much time thinking ‘I’m so mad’ or something like this. It’s not good for a fighter, it’s not good for any person. So, I just […] put my mind on September 9 and started to prepare for September 9.”