It was a close call in a very slow-paced fight, but in the end, Amanda Nunes successfully retained the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship with a split-decision victory over challenger Valentina Shevchenko.
Nunes and Shevchenko previously met at UFC 196 in March 2016, with Nunes winning the fight via unanimous decision. This rematch was originally supposed to meet in the main event of UFC 213 back in July, but Nunes pulled from the event on the day of the fight due to falling ill.
The fight was slow right from the get-go, as both fighters spent a lot of the first round just feeling each other out, feinting and checking leg kicks. A couple of blows were thrown at about the last minute, but that was all. It seemed to be that Nunes was planning to save up energy in case the fight went further than she wanted. And so, Shevchenko pushed the pressure a bit in the second. While Nunes seemed to take everything fine, Shevchenko clearly had so much more production in the round.
Shevchenko continued her production in round three. She continuously got in shots and then tried to get out and disengage as fast as possible to avoid Nunes’ power. Nunes also got in a fair share of strikes, but referee John McCarthy had to warn her late in the round for outstretched fingers, getting close to taking a point away.
After constant back-and-forth combinations throughout the fourth, it got to the point where — despite the technical display of both fighters in the bout — Shevchenko’s leg was bleeding quite a bit, her belly beat pink, and Nunes’ nose was all red.
Nunes finally attempted a takedown early in the fifth, but it was stuffed by Shevchenko. Nunes tried to turn it into a double-leg attempt against the cage, but the two ended up reset on their feet. Shevchenko landed several knees to the body, but after one miss, she found herself on the mat, taken down by the champ. Nunes got in one more takedown, and that seemed to make the difference in the fight.
All three judges scored the bout 48-47, with one awarding the fight to Shevchenko, but the other two giving the fight and title to Nunes.
UFC 215 Main Card (PPV, 10 p.m. ET):
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship: (c.) Amanda Nunes def. Valentina Shevchenko via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
Welterweight: Rafael dos Anjos def. Neil Magny via submission (arm-triangle choke) (Rd. 1, 3:43)
Flyweight: Henry Cejudo def. Wilson Reis via KO (Rd. 2, 0:25)
Light Heavyweight: Ilir Latifi def. Tyson Pedro via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Featherweight: Jeremy Stephens def. Gilbert Melendez via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)
UFC 215 Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET):
Women’s Bantamweight: Ketlen Vieira def. Sara McMann via submission (arm-triangle choke) (Rd. 2, 4:16)
Women’s Bantamweight: Sarah Moras def. Ashlee Evans-Smith via submission (armbar) (Rd. 1, 2:51)
Featherweight: Rick Glenn def. Gavin Tucker by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-24, 29-27)
Lightweight: Alex White def. Mitch Clarke via TKO (Rd. 2, 4:36)
UFC 215 Early Prelim Card (UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. ET):
Heavyweight: Arjan Bhullar def. Luis Henrique via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Lightweight: Kajan Johnson def. Adriano Martins via KO (Rd. 3, 0:49)