UFC 275 results, highlights: Valentina Shevchenko outlasts Taila Santos in split decision to retain title

UFC 275 results, highlights: Valentina Shevchenko outlasts Taila Santos in split decision to retain title

Valentina Shevchenko remained the UFC women’s flyweight champion on Saturday night, but not without a bit of adversity. Shevchenko held off Taila Santos in the co-main event of UFC 275 from Kallang, Singapore.

Shevchenko struggled to deal with Santos’ height advantage and wrestling skills. The turning point of the fight was packed with an unintended clash of heads. The collision nearly shut Santos’ eye and Shevchenko nestled in the driver’s seat from that point on. The champion’s late push was enough to secure her a split decision by scores of 48-47, 47-48 and 49-46.

Shevchenko landed a nice counter right hook early in the fight. She slipped on a takedown attempt after a prolonged clinch against the fence and Santos jumped onto her back. The title challenger aggressively chased neck cranks and rear-end chokes, ripping Shevchenko’s face off. The champion was surprisingly effective at striking behind her, repeatedly hitting Santos in the temple.

Santos relied on her grappling in the second, pressing Shevchenko against the fence. A takedown to the center of the Octagon was successful for Santos at the two-minute mark. Shevchenko chased a rare gogoplata, but Santos got away with it. Shevchenko dug into the challenger’s body with a body kick and knocked her down with a head and arm throw. The fighters scrambled to the floor with Santos eventually settling on top.

Referee Jason Herzog paused the fight at the start of Round 3. Oddly, Santos’ corner forgot to put his mouthpiece back on. Shevchenko took the lead from distance as she went after Santos with kicks to the body and leg. Shevchenko nearly landed a takedown, but Santos got to his feet. The bigger Santos again managed to press Shevchenko against the fence with two minutes left. Santos managed to find the takedown and took Shevchenko’s back. Santos got as close as she did in this fight to a rear-end choke, but it wasn’t particularly alarming.

Santos had visible swelling around his eye at the start of round 4. Commentators revealed that a clash of heads caused damage to Santos, who closed his right eye completely as the round continued. Shevchenko felt the change in momentum and opened up with big strikes on various targets. Shevchenko capped off a lightning combination of strikes with a head kick that partially landed. Santos dodged a late flurry from Shevchenko and scored a takedown.

The champ started with hard kicks and a series of punches that hurt Santos. The challenger immediately responded with a takedown attempt. Shevchenko again failed in the head and arm throw which, although effective, allowed Santos to take the back. Shevchenko got away with it and the fighters got back on their feet with three minutes left in the final round. Shevchenko landed a solid combination up top and surprised Santos with a body lock takedown.

” I did everything. I left my heart in that Octagon,” Shevchenko told Daniel Cormier in the post-fight interview. “I want to keep going. I want to keep fighting. I want to get better. Bantamweight, flyweight, it doesn’t matter.”

“I’m still young. I can’t complain about the decisions or anything, but that’s not the last time you’ll see me fighting for a belt,” Santos told Cormier, via of an interpreter afterwards. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t really see out of my right eye after it was closed.”

Shevchenko landed the sixth consecutive defense of her UFC women’s flyweight championship and extended her active winning streak to eight. Shevchenko recently teased that she will be vying for the women’s bantamweight crown by the end of the year. Her only two career losses are to former 135-pound women’s champion Amanda Nunes.

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