Valentina Shevchenko retains in spite of spirited effort from Jennifer Maia.
Valentina Shevchenko retained the UFC women’s flyweight championship in the co-main event of UFC 255, but it wasn’t without resistance and a strong showing from high-underdog challenger Jennifer Maia.
Shevchenko, who came into this bout as a -2000 favorite, dropped the second round to Maia on all three judges’ scorecards — just the second time Shevchenko has lost a round at flyweight.
Shevchenko also ties Gillian Robertson for most wins at women’s 125 with six, as well as the fourth-most wins in both women’s UFC history and women’s UFC title fight history.
Valentina Shevchenko gets through Jennifer Maia, retains at UFC 255
After about 30 seconds of feeling Maia out, Shevchenko easily took her down and stayed in control throughout. While little to no big action happened in the opening five minutes, and Maia threw up her guard, it wasn’t enough to prevent punches from Shevchenko.
Shevchenko took Maia down again early in the second round, but Maia caused some shock by scrambling back to her feet and landing a knee to the body. Maia clinched Shevchenko and took her to the cage wall, where she controlled the action — even getting Shevchenko down when the defending champ failed at a throw. Shevchenko attempted a late triangle but was unsuccessful.
The two traded to start the third round, with Shevchenko getting the better hand but looking noticeably slow until Maia briefly got the battle back to the cage wall — where Maia again controlled the clinch. Halfway through the third, Shevchenko tagged Maia with a one-two and took her back down. Maia got back up and controlled in a clinch again against the cage, but Shevchenko scored another takedown in the closing seconds, nearly mounting Maia before the horn.
Shevchenko tagged Maia early in the fourth, getting the better of the challenger on the feet before taking the action back down about two minutes in and keeping control like in the first round.
Maia got Shevchenko’s back to the cage in the fifth, but upon separation, Shevchenko picked her apart with striking in the first minute. Maia clinched again, but Shevchenko continued to hit her hard, especially after a failed takedown attempt by Maia.
All three judges scored the fight 49-46 for Shevchenko.
Shevchenko’s sister, Antonina, finished Ariane Lipinski on the preliminary card. They are now not only the first pair of sisters to share a UFC fight card, but they are the first pair of siblings to both win on the same UFC card since Anthony and Sergio Pettis at UFC 181.