This past weekend at UFC 275, the flyweight title was on the line. Pound-for-pound great Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) was looking to successfully defend her title for the seventh time as she took on Brazil’s Taila Santos (19-2).
Most people, including myself, thought that Shevchenko would run through Santos. I mean, in her flyweight career, Shevchenko has really only lost a single round which is absolutely incredible.
However, her title defense at UFC 275 was not easy. In fact, you could argue that she lost the first three rounds of the fight. Santos was able to take advantage of Shevchenko in the grappling. Whenever the two ended up in a grappling exchange, Santos seemed to get the better positions.
In fact, there were numerous times that she got the champ’s back. Now, she didn’t do much damage at UFC 275 which ultimately cost her, but a path to victory was clearly carved out. One person who was really taking note of that is former UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate (19-8).
Miesha Tate sees vulnerability in the UFC champ
Miesha Tate will make her flyweight debut at UFC 276 in just a few weeks. She will be taking on former flyweight title challenger Lauren Murphy. Given the lack of compelling challengers at 125, Tate is likely going to earn a title shot if she wins.
Even Valentina Shevchenko acknowledged this past weekend that her next title defense will likely be against Tate should she win at UFC 276. Of course, Lauren Murphy will look to play spoiler, but Tate is already licking her chops to fight the champion.
Tate appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour yesterday and talked about what she saw at UFC 275. She said, “We already know what happens when people strike with Valentina… She’s absolutely dangerous on her feet, but, what happens (when she’s forced to wrestle)?”
The former bantamweight champion would go on to say that she’s licking her chops to fight Shevchenko. Valentina Shevchenko is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC for a reason. However, Tate does have a point.
This is not the second time we’ve seen an opponent have a success in the grappling against Shevchenko. We all know that Tate would force the wrestling in that matchup. While I would certainly not pick against Shevchenko against anyone, it is easier to see a path to her losing after UFC 275.
If a flyweight can really wrestle her and control her for the majority of the fight, it could lead to some troubles. Of course, many have tried and only a few have succeeded. Could Miesha Tate succeed and capture another UFC title? We might find out at the end of the year.