In a night filled with electrifying action at Noche UFC, Valentina Shevchenko had hoped to celebrate her second reign as flyweight champion. However, her rematch against Alexa Grasso ended in a controversial split draw, leaving both fighters and fans stunned.
The intense five-round battle saw both Shevchenko and Grasso claim multiple rounds on all three scorecards. Yet, it was judge Mike Bell's decision to award Grasso a 10-8 score in the fifth round that proved decisive, resulting in a final scorecard of 47-47. The other two judges had split scores of 48-47, one favouring Grasso and the other Shevchenko, ultimately leading to a split draw.
Shevchenko voiced her disappointment during the Noche UFC post-fight press conference, stating, "I think three rounds I won, two rounds maybe were hers. But I feel the 10-8 in the fifth round, it's completely unfair."
The turning point in the fifth round began with Shevchenko dominating on her feet, seemingly on her way to securing a unanimous decision and reclaiming her title. However, an ill-fated takedown attempt led to Grasso on Shevchenko's back, attempting a rear-naked choke submission. This mirrored their first encounter in March, but this time, Shevchenko survived and believed she had secured the victory.
Shevchenko questioned the 10-8 scorecard, suggesting that the occasion of Mexican Independence Day may have influenced the judges. She explained, "Unfortunately, I think this event because it's Mexican Independence Day, that's why it affected the decision of the judge to give 10-8 in the fifth round."
The criteria for awarding a 10-8 round have evolved in recent years. The Nevada State Athletic Commission now considers factors of impact, dominance, and duration in their evaluation. Shevchenko disagreed with Bell's assessment of the fifth round, emphasizing, "A 10-8, it's kind of like not what it was in the fifth round."
Shevchenko expressed her desire to hear an explanation from Bell, although it's unlikely such an explanation will be provided. She said, "It would be really nice to see because we as fighters, we fight. We fight and all of you see it, it's an open to the public thing, it's there for everybody to see. As far as the scoring, they score it, and you don't see it. It's a private thing."
Despite the split draw result, Shevchenko was not fully satisfied and revealed she had suffered a broken thumb in the first round of the fight. She refused to stop the match, determined to deliver for the fans.
Looking ahead, Shevchenko remained cautious about her next steps, considering her thumb's healing process. She stated, "I don't want to rush. I don't want to say something and tomorrow I will change my mind. First of all, I want to see how long it's going [to take my thumb] to heal because this is most important."
Shevchenko's performance at Noche UFC demonstrated her resilience, and she expressed her commitment to performing at her best when she returns to the octagon. While her future opponent remains uncertain, she left no doubt that she has more to offer in her fighting career.