Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes Picks Apart Another Challenger

With the flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg getting cancelled due to Borg suffering from illness during fight week, the duty of the main event at UFC 215 fell to Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko.

Nunes was defending her bantamweight crown against the number one ranked Shevchenko and this was a fight that most fans genuinely thought could go either way.

The pair originally clashed back at UFC 196 and while Nunes got the unanimous points decision on that occasion, ‘Bullet’ came on strong in the third round and many suspected that if it was a five-rounder, she would have scored the victory.

Two months ago, the Nunes and Shevchenko were all set for their rematch at UFC 213 but Nunes pulled out at the last minute, citing sinusitis as the reason why.

Shevchenko wasn’t having it, though: “Do I believe [Nunes was suffering from sinusitis]? No,” she said. “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 being p*ssed with her opponent at the time, Shevchenko banished those feelings in the run up to their rescheduled rematch as she thinks it’s counter productive to be harbouring feelings of anger.

“I’m not angry with her, because she is my opponent and I have to pass through her, and nothing more,” Shevchenko said. “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.”

Perhaps surprisingly, despite being the champ, Nunes went into this one as the underdog with most bookies have her at $2.10 while Shevchenko was the favourite at $1.77.

Their first bout was a closely fought affair

Nunes and Shevchenko, preparing to cross arm-swords again…

As the opening bell rang, both fighters were extremely cautious, looking to feel each other out. With questions surrounding Nunes’ gas tank, she seemed happy to take her time, but threw enough to win the first.

As the second round came on, Shevchenko loosened up, with some big shots:

As the rounds unfolded, it became increasingly more difficult to determine who was ahead on the scorecards.. But in the final round, Nunes took Shevchenko to the ground, which looked to be a tactical move to oust her opponent on the scorecards with a definitive move.

The decision to take Shevchenko down looked to be enough, with Nunes winning via split decision 48-47, 47-48, 48-47.

See the decisive move here:

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