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Her run at bantamweight was both extremely successful and extremely frustrating. Shevchenko announced herself as a contender immediately upon her UFC debut: In late , she stepped in on late notice to face perennial contender Sarah Kaufman , and despite her muay Thai background, she used her wrestling and grappling to earn a decision.
That got her an immediate No. Shevchenko has historically been dedicated to countering, and with Nunes cautious to avoid her gas tank issues that surfaced in their first fight, the two did not do much of anything over the course of 25 excruciating minutes.
There has always been a feeling that Shevchenko could let go and leave more of an imprint upon her fights, and the Nunes rematch was where this was most apparent. With an opportunity to be champion staring her in the face, Shevchenko was content to coast to a loss until she finally pressed the action in the last minute of the bout.
It still left her on the losing end of a close fight.
From there, it was down to her natural weight class at pounds, and thankfully, a lot of those issues have remedied themselves. For the 26 seconds that the second round of her fight against Jessica Eye lasted, Shevchenko did a masterful job of using kicks to the body to set up a head kick knockout that ranks among the most brutal finishes of the year.
Eric Shelton Round 1 — Pantoja short on a low kick to start.
The sad part is that there is not an obvious rival to step up and challenge Shevchenko. Even so, it may actually be fun to watch her reign over the division until things start to turn over, with Carmouche serving as the latest contender to step up to the plate. Carmouche is actually the only woman besides Nunes to earn a win over Shevchenko, owing to a doctor stoppage on a card in Thankfully for Carmouche, wins against Jennifer Maia and Lucie Pudilova over the last year-plus have proven that she can fall back on winning a grind as a flyweight.
However, for all the problems that Carmouche can cause Shevchenko, the opposite might be just as true. Even beyond the history between the two women, Carmouche is as interesting a challenger as any for Shevchenko at the moment, mostly thanks to her physical gifts.
The latter probably will not go well. In general, it is difficult to envision how Carmouche lands much in the way of effective offense. Overall, this looks like a tough-but-safe win for Shevchenko; a Carmouche victory probably comes via a narrow decision, and even then, that would be the type of stalemate fight that Shevchenko still has a chance of squeaking out on the scorecards.
If Shevchenko makes this look easy, either in the wrestling department or just by showing some long-overdue aggression on the feet, it will be legitimately impressive. The pick is Shevchenko by decision.