Valentina Anatolievna Shevchenko (VA-LEN-TYNA; Russian: Валентина Анатольевна Шевченко; born (1988-03-07)March 7, 1988) is a Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian professional mixed martial artist and former Muay Thai fighter. She currently competes in the women’s Flyweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). She is the current UFC Women's Flyweight Champion. Shevchenko became champion at UFC 231 after defeating Joanna Jędrzejczyk, whom she also previously defeated three times in amateur Muay Thai bouts. Shevchenko is widely considered one of the best female fighters in the world. She is the younger sister of fellow UFC fighter Antonina Shevchenko. As of November 23, 2020, she is ranked #2 in UFC women's pound-for-pound rankings.
Early life and personal life
Shevchenko was born in Frunze, Kirghizia, USSR on March 7, 1988, to a Ukrainian family,, but she has described herself as being "Russian" in a Russian interview and her native language is Russian. Her family had Soviet, and later Kyrgyzstani, citizenship. Her mother Elena Shevchenko is the president of Kyrgyzstan's national Muay Thai association and a former multiple-time Muay Thai champion.   After becoming interested in combat sports at an early age, Valentina began Taekwondo at age 5, under the influence of her older sister Antonina and her mother, who both participated in the sport. At age 12 she branched out into Muay Thai kickboxing and then freestyle Vale Tudo. Her kickboxing career began in 2000 when, also at age 12, she knocked out a 22-year-old opponent, earning her the moniker "Bullet" from her trainer Pavel Fedotov because of her speed in the ring. She traveled to Peru with Fedotov and Antonina in 2007, where they became martial arts teachers, and Fedotov eventually relocated his team there permanently. She gained Peruvian citizenship in 2008  and is fluent in Russian, English, and Spanish.
Shevchenko earned an undergraduate degree in Film Directing from the National Academy of Arts of the Kyrgyz Republic.
In April 2019, she was awarded by Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov with the Dank Order. She was awarded during her first visit to Kyrgyzstan in seven years, during which Jeenbekov praised Shevchenko's role in her profession, saying that she "defended the honour of our Kyrgyzstan". Valentina and Antonina created UFC history by becoming the first pair of sisters to feature on the same fight card at UFC 255.
Muay Thai and kickboxing
From 2003 to 2015, Shevchenko collectively won more than 50 amateur/pro matches in K-1, Muay Thai and kickboxing (five were won by technical knockout, three were won by knockout). She received her first loss in kickboxing when she fought Debby Urkens (WFCA) in 2008 and her second one against Cong Wang in 2015. Shevchenko won 8 gold medals (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014) when she competed in the IFMA world championships, as well as the IMFA Royal World Cup in 2015. During these competitions, Shevchenko defeated future UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk three times and future UFC fighter Lina Länsberg once. Shevchenko is considered to be one of the best female Muay Thai fighters in the world.
Mixed martial arts career
Shevchenko has competed in mixed martial arts since 2003, compiling a record of 19-3.
Legacy Fighting Championship
In 2014, it was announced that Legacy FC had signed Shevchenko for MMA and kickboxing. She faced Jan Finney on February 27, 2015, at Legacy Fighting Championship 39, winning the fight via unanimous decision.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Shevchenko made her UFC debut as a short-notice replacement for Germaine de Randamie against Sarah Kaufman at UFC on Fox 17. She won the fight via split decision (28–29, 29–28, and 29–28).
In her second fight for the promotion, Shevchenko faced Amanda Nunes at UFC 196 on March 5, 2016. Although she made an impressive and strong performance in the third round, her slow start in the first two gave the rounds to Nunes. She lost the fight by unanimous decision (29–28, 29–27, and 29–27).
In her third UFC fight, Shevchenko faced former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm at UFC on Fox: Holm vs. Shevchenko on July 23, 2016. After losing the first round, she rallied back to take over the fight and won a dominant unanimous decision (49–46, 49–46, and 49–46).
Shevchenko faced Julianna Peña in a possible title eliminator match in the main event at UFC on Fox: Shevchenko vs. Peña on January 28, 2017. She won the fight by armbar submission in the second round. The win also earned Shevchenko her first Performance of the Night bonus.
UFC Bantamweight title fight
Shevchenko was expected to rematch the current women's bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes on July 8, 2017, at UFC 213, but on the day of the fight Nunes fell ill and pulled out of the fight. The doctors cleared Nunes to fight, but she didn't feel up to it, so the fight was called off. Joanna Jędrzejczyk offered to replace Nunes, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission could not clear her on such short notice.
The rematch against Nunes was rescheduled to UFC 215 on September 9, 2017, in Edmonton, Alberta. After a very close back-and-forth fight, Shevchenko lost the fight via split decision. In the post-fight press conference, she voiced her disagreement with the judges' decision but also said she respected the outcome. Out of 22 media outlets, 10 scored it for Nunes, 10 for Shevchenko, and 2 scored it a draw.
In September 2017, Shevchenko revealed plans to join the 125-pound flyweight division.
Shevchenko faced promotional newcomer Priscila Cachoeira on February 3, 2018, at UFC Fight Night 125. She won the fight in an extremely dominant fashion and via rear-naked choke in round two, outstriking her opponent 230-3. This win earned her the Performance of the Night bonus.
Shevchenko was scheduled to face champion Nicco Montaño on September 8, 2018, at UFC 228. However, prior to the weigh-ins for the event, Montano was transported to a hospital due to the effects of weight cutting. The bout was cancelled and Montano was stripped of the Women's Flyweight title. UFC officials then announced that Shevchenko would fight for the vacant 125-pound flyweight title later in 2018.
UFC Women's Flyweight Championship
On September 20, 2018, it was announced that Shevchenko would face Joanna Jędrzejczyk, who was returning to Flyweight, on December 8, 2018, at UFC 231 for the vacant UFC Women's Flyweight Championship. Due to UFC 230 being in need of a main event, Shevchenko was booked against Sijara Eubanks. Eubanks was expected to face Jessica Eye at UFC 232, before being moved to face Shevchenko. After the UFC announced a Heavyweight Championship bout between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis to serve as the main event of UFC 230, UFC confirmed the bout between Shevchenko and Eubanks was canceled and that Shevchenko would return to her original bout at UFC 231 against Jędrzejczyk. Shevchenko defeated Jędrzejczyk by unanimous decision to become the new UFC Women's Flyweight Champion.
In the first defense of her UFC flyweight title, Shevchenko faced Jessica Eye in the co-main event at UFC 238 on June 8, 2019, She successfully defended her title, winning via a head kick knockout in the second round. This win earned her the Performance of the Night award.
Shevchenko faced Liz Carmouche on August 10, 2019 at UFC on ESPN+ 14. The pairing met previously under a regional promotion banner in 2010 with Carmouche winning the bout in the second round after the doctor stopped the bout due to a large cut stemming from an upkick. Shevchenko won the rematch via unanimous decision.
Shevchenko defended her Flyweight title for the third time against Katlyn Chookagian on February 8, 2020 at UFC 247. She won the fight via TKO in the third round.
Shevchenko was scheduled to face Joanne Calderwood on June 6, 2020 at UFC 250. However, Shevchenko pulled out of the fight citing a leg injury.
In the fourth defense of her title, Shevchenko faced Jennifer Maia on November 21, 2020 at UFC 255. She won the fight via unanimous decision.
Shevchenko will appear in the upcoming film Bruised starring Halle Berry, in which she plays the role of Lady Killer, a professonal MMA fighter and the main rival of Berry's character, Jackie Justice. 
A decorated kickboxer, Shevchenko is primarily known for precise counter-striking. She is recognized for her exceptional ability to gauge the distance of an opponent's attack, then retaliate with a variety of counterattacks. In a 2017 interview, Shevchenko noted the challenges of perfecting this technique in mixed martial arts: "It's different to fight a wrestler and stand-up fighter. To feel the distance of her punch, it's different."
After dodging an opponent's strike, Shevchenko will often counter with a fast right hook, a spinning wheel kick, or a spinning back fist. On offense, she makes regular use of forward right hooks and two-punch combinations. She also utilizes an outside leg kick, regularly thrown at the end of a flurry, or in the early stages of a round.
In addition to her striking, Shevchenko is trained in grappling and has a black belt in Judo, as demonstrated by her multiple take-downs against Holly Holm, her armbar submission of Julianna Peña and her rear naked choke submission over Priscila Cachoeira.
Championships and accomplishments
Mixed martial arts
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|23 matches||20 wins||3 losses|
|Win||20–3||Jennifer Maia||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 255||November 21, 2020||5||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Defended the UFC Women's Flyweight Championship.|
|Win||19–3||Katlyn Chookagian||TKO (elbows and punches)||UFC 247||February 8, 2020||3||1:03||Houston, Texas, United States||Defended the UFC Women's Flyweight Championship.|
|Win||18–3||Liz Carmouche||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2||August 10, 2019||5||5:00||Montevideo, Uruguay||Defended the UFC Women's Flyweight Championship.|
|Win||17–3||Jessica Eye||KO (head kick)||UFC 238||June 8, 2019||2||0:26||Chicago, Illinois, United States||Defended the UFC Women's Flyweight Championship. Performance of the Night.|
|Win||16–3||Joanna Jędrzejczyk||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 231||December 8, 2018||5||5:00||Toronto, Ontario, Canada||Won the vacant UFC Women's Flyweight Championship.|
|Win||15–3||Priscila Cachoeira||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Anders||February 3, 2018||2||4:25||Belém, Brazil||Return to Flyweight. Performance of the Night.|
|Loss||14–3||Amanda Nunes||Decision (split)||UFC 215||September 9, 2017||5||5:00||Edmonton, Alberta, Canada||For the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship.|
|Win||14–2||Julianna Peña||Submission (armbar)||UFC on Fox: Shevchenko vs. Peña||January 28, 2017||2||4:29||Denver, Colorado, United States||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||13–2||Holly Holm||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on Fox: Holm vs. Shevchenko||July 23, 2016||5||5:00||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Loss||12–2||Amanda Nunes||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 196||March 5, 2016||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||12–1||Sarah Kaufman||Decision (split)||UFC on Fox: dos Anjos vs. Cerrone 2||December 19, 2015||3||5:00||Orlando, Florida, United States|
|Win||11–1||Jan Finney||Decision (unanimous)||Legacy FC 39||February 27, 2015||3||5:00||Houston, Texas United States|
|Win||10–1||Hellen Bastos||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Fusion FC 6||February 26, 2014||2||3:00||Lima, Peru|
|Win||9–1||Priscila Orellana||TKO (punches)||Fusion FC 5||December 18, 2013||1||0:50||Lima, Peru|
|Win||8–1||Akjarkyn Baiturbaeva||Decision (unanimous)||KF-1: MMA World Competition||April 30, 2011||3||5:00||Seoul, South Korea|
|Loss||7–1||Liz Carmouche||TKO (doctor stoppage)||C3 Fights: Red River Rivalry||September 30, 2010||2||3:00||Concho, Oklahoma, United States||Return to Bantamweight.|
|Win||7–0||Yulia Nemtsova||Submission (Ezekiel choke)||Professional Free Fight||March 3, 2006||1||1:11||Krasnodar, Russia||Flyweight debut.|
|Win||6–0||Kyung Aeh Kim||Submission (armbar)||WXF: X-Impact World Championships 2005||July 9, 2005||1||1:09||Seoul, South Korea|
|Win||5–0||Roza Kalieva||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Kazakhstan Federation of Pankration 2||March 22, 2005||1||1:09||Kokshetau, Kazakhstan|
|Win||4–0||Alla Iskarenova||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Kazakhstan Federation of Pankration||March 21, 2005||1||1:12||Kokshetau, Kazakhstan|
|Win||3–0||Erkesh Kokoeva||TKO (punches)||Kyrgyz Federation of Kulatuu 2||October 15, 2004||1||N/A||Kyrgyzstan|
|Win||2–0||Mi Choi Kim||Submission (rear-naked choke)||WXF: X-Impact World Championships 2003||December 9, 2003||1||1:55||Seoul, South Korea|
|Win||1–0||Eliza Aidaralieva||TKO (punches)||Kyrgyz Federation of Kulatuu||April 21, 2003||2||N/A||Kyrgyzstan||Bantamweight debut.|
Professional boxing record
|Win||2–0||Nerys Rincon||TKO||4||N/A||December 17, 2011||Coliseo ReserClub de Pueblo Libre, Lima, Peru|
|Win||1–0||Halanna Dos Santos||UD||10||2:00||May 8, 2010||Coliseo Marotta, Callao, Peru|
Professional Kickboxing and Muay Thai record
|K-1, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai record (Incomplete)|
Legend: Win Loss Draw/No contest Notes
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Shevchenko was born into a Ukrainian family in the former Soviet Union, and began learning martial arts when she was 5.
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Shevchenko is one of the most famous Ukrainian last names, but her family was forced to flee the-then USSR state during Stalin's Communist rule. Ukraine is now an independent country in its own right.
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