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Valentina Shevchenko changes tune, targets drop to UFC women's flyweight division

From the second she lost to UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 215, Valentina Shevchenko was asking for a rematch.

Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) blasted the judges who handed her a split-decision loss and even contemplated filing an appeal in lieu of a third fight with the Brazilian.

But after some time to simmer down, she appears to have had a change of heart. Rather than push for another shot at Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), she’s targeting the newly opened flyweight class as her next conquest.

“Now I’m thinking to move to 125 (pounds), and I think more probably my next fight it will be in this division,” Shevchenko told Submission Radio on Thursday. “Because 125 is like much closer weight for me. It’s my real weight category, and even at 135 I feel comfortable, and I feel like 125 I will be able to use all my techniques and all my skills because I will fight with the same-sized opponents as me.”

The UFC formally opened the women’s 125-pound division earlier this year with “The Ultimate Fighter 26,” which debuted this past month and features 16 flyweight female fighters vying for the inaugural title belt.

Shevchenko had little incentive to move with 135-pound gold within her grasp. But now that she’s fallen short and dropped two fights to Nunes, she sees it as a more logical move than trying to get an immediate rematch or appeal the fight.

“I want to win my belt in a fair battle and to receive the belt from the fight, not only from legal situation or fighting like appeal or something like that,” she said. “And I know it will come; I will have my time. And will do everything great next time. So, I prefer to be the champion in the fight, not on the paper.”

The move to 125 pounds will be very familiar for the Russian. While competing in muay Thai, she fought as a flyweight and won several championships. One of her victims in the ring was none other than women’s strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

“Just a little bit of cutting, and it will be everything perfect,” Shevchenko said. “Because, in my Muay Thai fights, I was fighting every time at 125. The last year I was moving a little bit up in weight class, but it was 130. So I feel very comfortable at 125.

“And even at 125, we can have like opponents (that are) very tall, but of course it will be the same physical conditions – the same head, the same size arms and everything, the same like mine.”

Shevchenko hasn’t totally let go of a possible third fight with Nunes. She eventually plans to return to the bantamweight division to exact revenge.

“And for the next time, not give any chance to make this like this decision that was made a few days ago,” Shevchenko said. “Of course, it’s on my mind, and I still want it. Not right now, not in the near future, but definitely it will happen.”

Now, Shevchenko can start entertaining a matchup repeatedly posed to her by fans and journalists who were aware of her kickboxing past at flyweight.

“Every time when people ask me about Joanna, I say that, why not? Because we have our history, our era in fighting Muay Thai, and now we can start to do the same in MMA in the UFC,” she said.

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of MMAjunkie.

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