Valentina Shevchenko isn’t so sure that Amanda Nunes‘ retirement will stick.
On September 16, ‘Bullet’ will make her highly anticipated return to the Octagon as she attempts to reclaim the flyweight title she surrendered to Alexa Grasso at UFC 285 in March. Ahead of the rematch at Noche UFC, Shevchenko spoke with James Lynch in a LowKick MMA exclusive interview about her impending title tilt and the status of the stacked flyweight division.
During their conversation, ‘Bullet’ was asked for her thoughts on the retirement of two-division women’s world champion, Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko and ‘The Lioness’ are no strangers to one another, having fought on two separate occasions with the first coming at UFC 196 in 2016. Nunes scored a unanimous decision victory over Shevchenko in their inaugural meeting, with the pair running it back a year and a half later at UFC 215. On that night, ‘Bullet’ found herself on the wrong side of a split decision, but the loss didn’t come without a hint of controversy as many fans believe Shevchenko did enough to even the series at 1-1.
“I would like to have this trilogy fight, but I can’t say I’m disappointed,” Shevchenko said of Nunes’ retirement. “Amanda, she made her decision and she had a great career. I think the second fight… The result was not how it was. I think I won that fight.”
Speaking about Nunes’ surprising decision to hang up her four-ounce gloves, Valentina Shevchenko is not entirely convinced that we’ve seen the last of ‘The Lioness’ inside the Octagon.
“She did so many huge things in the fight, in her career. It’s very hard to judge why she [retired], but on the other side, I feel like many people confuse the term retirement and instead of using the term retirement, they could use the term a little layoff,” Shevchenko said. “A little rest. Maybe a year. Maybe two, but not retirement because I feel she is young enough to continue the fight journey. Maybe after a year or two, she’ll change her mind and decide to have another fight or two.”
She continued, “Every time there is a possibility. Something can be different. For example, Henry [Cejudo] decided to retire. After two or three years, he had his family, his babies, and he came back. That’s why I’m saying not to use the term retirement because retirement is something fundamental. It’s forever. Use [the term] take a break and go and rest, then see what is going to be.”
Shevchenko Believes the Pressure of Being a World Champion Could Have Weighed on Amanda Nunes
Nunes walked away from the sport after successfully defending the 135-pound title against Irene Aldana at UFC 289. She relinquished both the bantamweight and featherweight titles, having defended them a combined eight times and facing some of the biggest names in women’s MMA history, including Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm, and of course, Valentina Shevchenko.
“When you have to defend your belt. When you have to prepare in training camp, it’s like constant physical and mental pressure, and definitely, you cannot live this life forever in this pressure,” Shevchenko added. “Sometimes you have to take time to rest and their your mind is recovered up, you say, ‘Why not? Why not give it another shot?'”
Do you think we will see Amanda Nunes return to the Octagon someday?