Taila Santos is convinced that Valentina Shevchenko is afraid to fight her. 

They fought for the UFC flyweight title at UFC 275 this past June. It was the toughest test in Shevchenko’s four-year title run as she scored a split-decision win over Santos. 

Santos (19-2) opted out of surgery for a broken orbital bone after the five-round war. Now, she’s healthy and is looking for another opportunity at UFC gold. 

We’ve been asking for fights over and over again — asking for the rematch, really,” Santos told MMA Fighting. “Tiago [Okamura, manager] spoke with Mick [Maynard] and the UFC, informed them I was well and training. They even said that Valentina was running. She asked them for fights, but not against me.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

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Taila Santos Says Everyone Is Avoiding Her 

The 29-year-old says the UFC are having a hard time finding an opponent for her. She says many contenders are avoiding her, including Shevchenko. According to Santos, the champion has denied requests for a rematch. In June, one judge had it 48-47 for Santos over Shevchenko.

All the girls say Valentina is a monster, but I’ve been saying for a while she has no ground game,” Santos said. “I showed that there was no reason to fear [her]. I knew she wouldn’t accept a rematch after that fight. I called her out anyway, but I knew she wouldn’t take the risk of losing her belt. She wouldn’t rematch me after I showed she was no big deal. She’s scared.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

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The #2 flyweight wants to face someone close to her ranking. Santos is interested in fighting before the year ends or during the beginning of 2023. She mentioned two potential opponents for her return.

I’m ranked No. 2 in the UFC, so I would like to fight someone around me,” Santos said. “I would like to fight the No. 1, [Manon] Fiorot, or the one below me, [Katlyn] Chookagian. People keep talking and talking, mentioning fighters that have retired already, but no one says my name.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

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Santos is 4-1 in her last five octagon appearances. She has wins over Molly McCann, Joanne Wood, Gillian Robertson and Roxanne Modafferi.

Marc Ray has lived his entire life in Houston, Texas, where he was born, raised and attended the University of Houston, studying broadcast journalism. As you may imagine, he spends much of his time watching mixed martial arts as part of his daily routine — not only to pump himself up, but also because he deeply enjoys the sport. Ray has worked for Houston Public Media, where he interned in the newsroom and produced community stories. Ray also created sports features in Houston for El Gato Media Network and occasionally produced content for an internship at AARP.