If Valentina Shevchenko’s pre-fight words are any guide, we could be about to see the most focused, most dangerous “Bullet” Shevchenko yet.
The former UFC women’s flyweight champion is back to recapture the 125-pound title as she gets set to face Mexican champion Alexa Grasso, who shocked the MMA world with a submission finish of Shevchenko back at UFC 285 in March.
Based on Shevchenko’s comments ahead of fight night at Noche UFC, that fourth-round defeat appears to have lit a fire under the former champion, who cut a steely and determined figure at media day ahead of fight night in Las Vegas.
“Watching the fight back, I would say I was winning all of the fight from first to the third round, except the last moment of the fourth round,” she said, as she recalled their first meeting six months ago.
“And another thing, right now my mindset and my focus, I don’t go back to March. I don’t go back and think about what happened there. I did it already. I did it in my training camp. I did it for all these months.
“Right now, I’m a person who’s motivated to get rid of that feeling back then in March. I’m determined on what I have to do this Saturday, that’s my mindset.
“I don’t watch back. Everything I had to take from the fight I took. Now, it’s strong energy, positive energy, no mercy. Go to the end.”
That “no mercy” comment appears to be a theme in Shevchenko’s preparation for her rematch with Grasso. She was even more emphatic about that mindset in the promotional video for the fight, where she laid out in strong terms exactly what her mindset would be when the cage door closes at T-Mobile Arena.
“One loss doesn’t change anything because my soul is the soul of a champion,” she said.
“My focus right now is to get back what is mine, to get back what was mine for a long time, and to prove to the people that I’m still here and I’m still on the top and I’m still the best of the best.
“Grasso will see the most explosive, the most powerful, the most dangerous version of ‘Bullet’ Valentina.
“This time, it’s going to be no mercy. This fight, September 16 is going to be a different fight. I know what to expect from her, but she doesn’t feel what (the) real ‘Bullet’ Valentina is.
“She can run, she can hide, it doesn’t matter, I’m going to break her and leave the Octagon with the belt.”