Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) earned a split decision victory to retain her flyweight belt against Taila Santos (19-2) at UFC 275 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.
Shevchenko was measured with her strikes to open the fight, attacking Santos and pushing her back against the cage. Santos and Shevchenko scrambled to the ground and the challenger took the champion’s back, attempting to lock in a rear-naked choke, but never quite locking it in before the buzzer signaling the end of the round.
In the second, Shevchenko again tried to push her gameplan, but it was Santos earning the takedown and holding ground control. Late in the round, Shevcheno landed a judo throw takedown, but it was Santos who won the scramble and earned top control through the end of the round.
A bit less aggressive to open the third, Shevchenko avoided the clinch and opted to stand and throw hands. Late in the round, Santos worked Shevchenko into the cage and earned yet another takedown, moving to the champ’s back and trying to lock in a choke for the finish. Santos could never quite get under her chin and again exhausted the round with ground control.
Knowing she likely needed a finish, Shevchenko came out firing to open the championship round. An accidental clash of heads appeared to close Santos’s right eye. Late in the round, it was Santos taking points with yet another big takedown. In the fifth and final round, it was Shevchenko going for takedown after takedown, earning time on the ground and looking for opportunities to finish the fight.
Since earning a unanimous decision victory over Joanna Jedrejczyk back in 2018, Shevchenko had been dominant in the flyweight division, taking out all six challenger that have dared to step foot in the Octagon with her.
Santos had been on a roll heading into her showdown with Shevchenko, losing her only UFC fight by decision in her debut. After that loss, Santos rattled off three decision victories before earning a submission over Joanne Wood and a shot at UFC gold.