Who will be next for UFC champ Valentina Shevchenko?

Jun 12, 2022; Singapore, SIN; Valentina Shevchenko (red gloves) before the fight against Taila Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 275 at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Miller-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC‘s pound-for-pound queen is gearing up for her return to the octagon. Word is going around that the flyweight champion and best pound-for-pound female fighter in the world Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) is getting ready to make a spring return.

At the MMA Awards, Shevchenko revealed that she was targeting March for her potential return to the octagon and there are four fighters that could serve as her next opponent. There are two superfights included in the four matchups which would pair her against another champion.

One option is current strawweight champion Zhang Weili. Weili has indicated that she would love the physical challenge of moving up to challenge Shevchenko for the UFC flyweight title. This has always been on the table for the promotion and Shevchenko.

Another superfight option is the trilogy with Amanda Nunes the current bantamweight champion. This would involve Shevchenko moving up to 135 pounds to challenge Nunes for a third time with the chance to become a two-division champion.

UFC’s likely move

Then there are two options in the flyweight division and this is where I think the UFC will focus. At the moment, there appears to be two contenders that are leading the pack for the next crack at the flyweight championship and Valentina Shevchenko.

Those two challengers are Manon Fiorot and Alexa Grasso. Based on reading the tea leaves, I think that there is some momentum to have Shevchenko take on Manon Fiorot at the UFC London PPV in March. UFC 286 goes down in London on March 18th.

Given Fiorot’s European ties, it would make sense to have that title fight on that card. Leon Edwards is expected to defend his welterweight title in the main event and this flyweight title fight would be a nice compliment to stack the card at UFC 286.