Amanda Nunes retained the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Women’s Bantamweight Championship with a controversial split decision victory over Valentina Shevchenko in Edmonton, Canada.
“I wanted to show the world that I’m here to stay,” she said.
The Brazillian Nunes, known as “The Lioness”, is known for becoming the first openly gay champion in the history of combat sports last July. Her fame then grew exponentially when she defended her belt and beat superstar Rhonda Rousey into retirement in December.
Rousey had previously dominated the UFC for many years, and many considered her the best female fighter in history. But Nunes defeated her quickly and decisively, punching her in the face again – and again and again – before the referee stopped the fight after just 48 seconds.
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But her victory last Saturday against Shevchenko was far less definite, as many questioned whether it was even a victory at all. However, nobody disagreed with the judges’ decision more than Shevchenko.
“I don’t agree with the decision at all,” said the fighter from Kyrgyzstan, who shook her head in disbelief after her defeat was announced. “I won this fight. She didn’t land any real punches. If you look at her face, her nose is red from all the punches I landed. I don’t understand [the decision].”
Three judges determine the winner of a fight by deciding who won more rounds. Shevchenko believes she clearly won three of the five rounds, and two of the rounds were very close and could have gone to her. In the end, while one judge agreed with her, two judges scored the fight in favour of Nunes.
The 30-year-old champion fired back, saying she “dominated” the fight for five rounds, and that her plan was to tire Shevchenko out before attacking at the end.
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Although Shevchenko landed more strikes throughout the fight, Nunes had a strong takedown at the end of the final round, which may have helped to sway the judges’ decision in her favour. Schevchenko insists that the takedown did no damage, and that she “was landing more punches from being on the ground [than Nunes from above]”.
Nunes and Shevchenko publicly dislike each other: this isn’t the first time they’ve clashed outside the ring. The two fought in a three-round battle in March last year, which Nunes ended up winning by unanimous decision.
Shevchenko felt that her performance this weekend was her redemption, and should have been enough to win her the belt. Unfortunately for her, the judges disagreed.
She is hoping for a third fight with Nunes and the opportunity to defeat her in decisive and emphatic fashion. However, it is unclear what the UFC will decide to do next.