Decorated Muay Thai champion Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko earned a shot at UFC title gold with an impressive submission victory tonight at UFC on FOX 23 in Denver, Colorado. Shevchenko finished off TUF 18 winner Julianna “The Venezuelan Vixen” Peña in the bantamweight main event.
Shevchenko, who dropped a razor-thin decision to current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda “Lioness” Nunes in March, earned a rematch with Nunes tonight. Peña got off to a strong start in round two, but Shevchenko caught her in an impressive armbar for the tapout victory.
Shevchenko (15-2-0) opened the action with two quick hooks and Peña (8-3-0) responded by pinning her against the fence. Peña landed knees to the body until Shevchenko caught one and took her down, but Peña scrambled right back up to her feet and resumed throwing knees. Shevchenko took her down once more and struck from the top in side control with big hammerfists. Peña regained full guard and Shevchenko landed more strikes until Peña spun into an armbar attempt late in the close round.
The fighters battled for position in the clinch in round two, but neither woman could secure a takedown. After two minutes of a stalemate, Peña briefly tripped Shevchenko to the mat, but she could not keep her down. Peña threw Shevchenko to the canvas again and this time she was able to rain down punches from top position. Shevchenko postured for a triangle choke, but Peña punched her way free. Seconds later, Shevchenko quickly transitioned to an armbar and Peña tried to roll free, but she could not escape and tapped out.
Shevchenko’s slick submission win paves the way for a rematch between her and Nunes, whom she narrowly lost to at UFC 196. Shevchenko has posted victories in seven of her past eight fights, including UFC wins over Sarah Kaufman, Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm and Peña.
Winner: Valentina Shevchenko by Submission (Armbar) at 4:29 of round two. She improves to 15-2-0.
(Photo Credit: UFC)