UFC 215 results: Amanda Nunes retains bantamweight title with split decision win
Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko battled over five grueling rounds before a verdict was reached
Amanda Nunes finally put to rest concerns about her stamina on Saturday by going five hard rounds in the main event of UFC 215. Now, she'll need to do the same regarding whether she deserved to win the fight.
In a hotly-contested split decision, Nunes (15-4) retained her UFC women's bantamweight title over Valentina Shevchenko (14-3) in their rematch at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. Two judges scored the bout 48-47 for Nunes while the third had it the same for the challenger. CBS Sports scored it 48-47 for Shevchenko.
With the fight seemingly up for grabs entering Round 5 after four razor-thin rounds of technical striking, Nunes secured a takedown in the final minute, but was unable to do anything from top position as Shevchenko landed clean strikes from her back until the final horn.
"I was not concerned about anything [entering Round 5]," Nunes said. "I know in the last round I was going to go for the takedown and I did."
The crowd booed the decision throughout the post-fight interviews. Shevchenko, 29, who outlanded Nunes 104 to 85 in total strikes, appeared incredulous while shaking her head after the scores were read.
"I really don't understand why the [scores] go to the other side," Shevchenko said. "For two takedowns over five rounds? She didn't hit me one time, not one punch. Nothing significant. Look at her face? Her nose is red from my punches and why did she steal [the fight]? I really don't understand. Even when I was on the ground [in Round 5], I hit really hard from the ground position. I really don't understand why."
Nunes, a native of Brazil, was victorious by decision in their first meeting at UFC 196 in 2016 despite fading late in their three-round fight. But she proved more than up to the task of going five rounds in their rematch and did well to hang tough in the kind of chess match from distance that typically favors Shevchenko.
"Like I said my whole [pre-fight] interview, I know everything Valentina is going to bring tonight," Nunes said. "I make sure I am chopping everything. I knew she was the one getting tired, not me. I decided at the end of the [fifth] round, 'Let's take her down,' because I know she is going to get tired."
Nunes, 29, who was making the second defense of the title she won by submission over Miesha Tate at UFC 200, appeared to take a largely uneventful opening round thanks to a pair of clean right hands late.
The remaining rounds could've been scored either way, as Shevchenko closed distance well in Round 2 with a pair of Superman punches and Nunes used hard kicks -- which left Shevchenko's right leg and abdomen bright red -- to finish strong in Round 3.
The fourth round looked a lot like the opening three in the sense that it was contested from the standup throughout, only this time Shevchenko appeared to outwork the champion with counter shots and kicks, which saw Nunes' left leg turn red.
"I think that she didn't want to win this fight. She didn't win this fight," Shevchenko said. "Not one punch [landed hard], just these hard kicks. I kicked hard! I kicked hard! [Shevchenko pointed to a cut on her left leg.] This is the reason why I kicked hard."
Nunes was stuffed on her first two takedown attempts in Round 5 before finally securing one late, moments after Shevchenko had done the same before losing the position as Nunes scrambled to briefly take her back.
After the bout, the two fighters exchanged taunts and needed to be separated as Shevchenko flipped a middle finger at Nunes.
Although Shevchenko suffered her second loss to Nunes, she believed after the fight she was deserving of a third chance.
"I definitely will win this next fight," Shevchenko said. "I want this for next fight and I totally disagree why this decision [went] to the other side. I disagree."
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