By: Chris Taylor (Kalapaki Joe’s Staff Writer)
UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko are scheduled to fight once again at UFC 215.
Nunes and Shevchenko first met in the Octagon in March of last year at UFC 196 where Nunes won a unanimous decision after Shevchenko turned things up in the third round. The two were set to fight in the main event of UFC 213 in July, however, Nunes pulled out of the bout the day of the scheduled fight after feeling ill.
With the title fight rescheduled, BJPenn.com’s Chris Taylor spoke with Shevchenko on Wednesday ahead of her highly anticipated September 9 rematch with “The Lioness”.
Taylor: After having your scheduled rematch with Amanda Nunes fall through, this due to the champ apparently suffering from an illness, do you feel as if you have extra motivation now heading into UFC 215?
Shevchenko: “Every time my goal remains the same. My goal is to be the champion. I was so close in July, just a few hours away from my fight (the cancellation occurred). But I was just like ‘Ok it is not happening now but it will come.’ Now we have a date, two months after July 8. It is the perfect time (UFC 215). I was able to have a little bit of rest and now come back with some strong training. But for me, as far as motivation, every time I am motivated. I don’t need something extra because I am always able to push and motivate myself.”
Taylor: What did you think of Amanda Nunes’ excuse or reasoning for not fighting at UFC 213?
Shevchenko: “You know, I did not believe in her reason and what she said like it was a sinus infection or whatever she was saying. I do not believe that was the true reason. I think that the more likely truth is that she was cutting weight and in the final 24 hours it was just too much. She was probably just feeling very weak.”
“For example, obviously when you have some issue with your health, you go to the doctor and say ‘I have this problem’. But she (Nunes) didn’t say anything like that. Then, of course, the doctor checked her and everything was good, he cleared her but she still was not feeling good… Because of the weight cut. That is why I am sure that the more truthful reason is the weight cut forced her to pull out.”
Taylor acknowledged that it was hard to believe that Nunes had received doctors clearance to compete at UFC 213 but opted against doing so because of a cold.
Shevchenko: “Yes, as an athlete you’re preparing for everything. You know what is waiting for you and what problems you could face. You are preparing for your battle. But, in this case, it looks like she wasn’t.”
Who are you picking to win the UFC women’s bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215?