Valentina Shevchenko eyeing UFC bantamweight title shot at the end of 2022

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 28: Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan celebrates her win over Julianna Pena in the women's Bantamweight division during the UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center on January 28, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Next month at UFC 275, the women’s flyweight title is on the line as the pound for pound queen returns to defend her crown. Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) will make her first appearance of 2022 as she takes on Taila Santos (19-1).

Santos is a solid challenger given her impressive professional record, but little to no one is giving her a chance. Valentina Shevchenko has been truly dominant and essentially flawless since moving to the UFC’s flyweight division.

Back in 2016, there was no flyweight division. Instead, Shevchenko fought in the bantamweight division. She was 12-1 when she took on Amanda Nunes. She lost that fight by decision. After that, she defeated Holly Holm and current champion Julianna Pena.

After that, she had another fight with Amanda Nunes at UFC 215 for the bantamweight title. She lost a split decision, however, the majority of media scorecards and folks out there, including myself, believe that she defeated Nunes.

After this loss, she went to the newly created flyweight division and the rest is history. After a dominant first win at 125, she fought Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the vacant title. Starting with that fight, Shevchenko is 7-0 with four finishes and she’s only lost two rounds inside the octagon.

UFC Queen’s Next Steps

Make no mistake about it, the best pound for pound female fighter in the world is Valentina Shevchenko. To me, there is no argument, she’s the best. Assuming she defeats Taila Santos next month, she will have defended her title seven times successfully.

She will be closing in on Anderson Silva’s UFC record. However, there’s a chance her next fight after Santos will not be at 125 pounds. Shevchenko told Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour yesterday that there’s a very real chance she fights the winner of Julianna Pena – Amanda Nunes 2.

Those two will rematch at UFC 277 in July. Shevchenko has history with both fighters and both would create a very compelling storyline. Now, is there any chance she defends at 125 again prior to moving back up to 135.

The only scenario I see that happening at this point is if Miesha Tate wins against Lauren Murphy at UFC 276. If Tate wins, Shevchenko will have a high-profiled opponent who she’s never fought before.

Either way, I think sooner or later, Shevchenko will be challenging for a second championship. Regardless of who she fights, Shevchenko should be favored as she’s clearly the best in the world. At least in my eyes.