Former undisputed UFC flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko claims referee, Jason Herzog may have negatively affected her bid to defend her championship against Alexa Grasso at UFC 285 earlier this month, criticizing the official for some “actions” which led to fatigue for her later in the fight.
Shevchenko, a former bantamweight title challenger and now a former undisputed flyweight championship holder, attempted to notch her stunning eighth defense of the 125lbs crown, however, saw her run snapped by Mexican favorite, Grasso.
Establishing a comfortable lead on all three judges scorecards, in the fourth round, a miscued spinning back kick attempt from Shevchenko, resulted in the 35-year-old giving up her back to Grasso, who subsequently lept on and dragged the Krgysztan native to the Octagon canvas.
Hand fighting for some time, Shevchenko was eventually submitted with a taut neck crank from Grasso, who handed the former her first promotional loss since a September 2017 rematch loss to two-weight champion, Amanda Nunes, as well as her first defeat in 10 outings at the flyweight limit.
Immediately clamoring for a title rematch with Grasso – which the newly-crowned champion is expected to honor, Shevchenko claims some of her tiredness and lethargy in the first championship round could be chalked up to some actions from referee, Herzog.
“It’s hard to say I shouldn’t throw that spinning back kick,” Valentina Shevchenko said on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “It’s a very powerful kick – it’s a very strong kick. I’ve done so many knockouts with this spinning back kick. It’s just the situation. It’s the fourth round and you feel not as fresh as the first round, and some actions of the referee could have provoked this tiredness that I felt during the fourth round. It’s the situation.”
“Definitely, it’s an error, it’s a mistake, but at the same time, it’s hard to say, ‘Oh my God, this is a huge, huge mistake.’” Valentina Shevchenko explained. “Definitely it’s huge because it’s a loss, but it’s not something that I cannot deal [with, or it] will bring me so much down and I will be upset.”
Valentina Shevchenko targets summer title rematch with Alexa Grasso
While the newly-minted flyweight best, Grasso offered to rematch Shevchenko as soon as September – in a now-unlikely return to her native Mexico for a title defense, the former champion has campaigned for a re-run as soon as the summer, in fact.
“I hope the UFC will come and schedule the fight very soon,” Valentina Shevchenko said. “I’m not expecting the fight itself very soon, but I’m hoping it will be scheduled soon. Then I will have a date and it will be a goal, and I will slowly and surely start my way to come back.”