This past Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 275, the women’s flyweight title was on the line. Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) was looking to make her seventh successful title defense against the game Taila Santos (19-2).
Santos earned her UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series. In her professional career, he only loss was in her promotional debut by split decision. Despite the impressive record, virtually nobody (including myself) gave her a shot on Saturday night.
In the first round, Shevchenko was having her way with the standup. The speed and accuracy advantage for Shevchenko was evident, but Santos was hanging in there. Later in the first round, Shevchenko went for a takedown but slipped and Santos ended up on top.
Not only was she on top, but she got the UFC champ’s back. Despite having the back, she didn’t do a ton of damage which came back to haunt her. In the second and third rounds, Santos enjoyed success in the grappling, but in the third round, something happened that changed the course of the fight.
When the two fighters came together, they accidentally clashed heads. This broke the orbital bone of Taila Santos and she really couldn’t see the last couple of rounds. In rounds four and five, she was completely picked apart by Valentina Shevchenko on the feet.
After the final bell, many were wondering how the fight would be scored. The final two rounds at UFC 275 were definitely Shevchenko’s, but the first three were up in the air. You can easily make the argument that Santos won, but two of the judges didn’t see it that way.
What’s next after UFC 275?
Taila Santos suffered the second loss of her career at UFC 275 and once again it was by split decision. Now, in all transparency, I did score the fight for Valentina Shevchenko. While Santos made it really close, she just didn’t do enough damage in some of her spots where she had control.
In the first round, if she would’ve thrown some big shots, she could’ve sealed that round. Instead, she just held onto the back and let Shevchenko land shots on her. While some might think it’s crazy, I scored rounds 1,4, and 5 for the champion.
Nevertheless, you can’t help but be impressed with Taila Santos. The question now becomes, what’s next after UFC 275?. Well, the first thing is going to be surgery to repair her broken orbital bone. That will likely keep her out of action until the end of the year.
Some have suggested an immediate rematch given how close the fight was, but that’s not going to happen. If Miesha Tate defeats Lauren Murphy at UFC 276, she’s 100% getting the next title shot. Maybe if Murphy wins and then Katlyn Chookagian defeats Manon Fiorot, Santos gets the shot.
She would be the most compelling challenger. For arguments sake, lets’s say the UFC doesn’t give her the title shot. I think a great next opponent would be the winner of Fiorot and Chookagian. That could be your title eliminator. Let’s say Fiorot defeats Chookagian and Santos, she would be a fresh challenger with big wins.
If Chookagian wins both, you couldn’t deny her of her rematch. If Santos wins, the storyline is already there after UFC 275. That’s the direction that I think makes the most sense for the promotion.