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Valentina Shevchenko is too predictable, criticizes Erin Blanchfield

LockerRoom Team
15 September 2023

Valentina Shevchenko, a seven-time UFC flyweight champion, was known for her dominance in the division. However, Erin Blanchfield, a rising star in the flyweight division, believes that the competition has finally caught up with Shevchenko.

Blanchfield is eagerly waiting to see how Shevchenko performs in her upcoming rematch with Alexa Grasso at Noche UFC on Saturday, with the hope of securing a title shot against the winner. The first bout between Shevchenko and Grasso ended in a surprising fashion, as Shevchenko's spinning backkick was countered with a takedown and rear-naked choke submission.

Blanchfield acknowledges that while the result was unexpected at the time, she's been noticing a pattern in Shevchenko's fights.

“I feel like she’s very much a creature of habit,” Blanchfield told MMA Fighting. “She seems to do the exact same things, and she’s getting a little older, so obviously it’s a little harder to adjust and change her game. But I feel like her game has kind of been the same in her past couple of fights.”

Shevchenko initially gained recognition in the UFC for her striking prowess, given her background as a multi-time Muay Thai and kickboxing champion. Over time, she incorporated various elements into her fighting style, including a strong submission game and effective wrestling.

However, Blanchfield believes that Shevchenko has struggled to make necessary adjustments during her fights to surprise her opponents in recent times. She also highlights the rapid development of talent in the flyweight division, with fighters like herself pushing for the opportunity to prove that Shevchenko is no longer unbeatable.

“I feel like the division is catching up to Valentina,” Blanchfield said. “I feel like she does a lot of the same things in fights, pretty repetitive, that’s why Alexa’s game plan worked perfectly. [Valentina] doesn’t make many adjustments. She’s a great fighter, but at a certain level, you have to have respect for the fighters that you’re fighting and make those adjustments."

Blanchfield acknowledges that Grasso's first win over Shevchenko was in a closely contested battle but believes there's a path to victory for the Mexican-born flyweight. While she can't outline the exact strategy for Grasso, she's confident that the blueprint to defeat Shevchenko exists, and it's up to the champion to execute her game plan on Saturday night.

“I feel like she definitely could [win],” Blanchfield said of Grasso. “I think she’s a great game-planner, and with the experience of fighting Valentina [previously], I feel like she’ll make some adjustments and maybe be able to win those four rounds."

As the anticipation builds for the Noche UFC rematch, the MMA world eagerly awaits to see whether Shevchenko can prove her dominance once again or if the division's rising stars will continue to challenge her reign.

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