In 2023, Valentina Shevchenko will face numerous fresh threats to her crown. The Bullet won a split decision over Taila Santos in June 2022 to successfully defend her Flyweight title for the seventh time in a row.
Her next bout will take place at UFC 285 on March 4, 2023. In the meantime, brand-new challengers have appeared, including her next opponent Alexa Grasso, France's Manon Fiorot, and most recently Erin Blanchfield from this past weekend.
But outside of the UFC, Japan's Rin Nakai, a former UFC Bantamweight who competed in two matches in 2014 and 2016, has moved back down to Flyweight. The current DEEP JEWELS Flyweight champion defeated Aoi Kuriyama at DEEP JEWELS 40 to earn her first victory since winning the title in May 2022.
The submission victory came by rear-naked choke in the second round. The victory extended Nakai's 10-fight finish run since leaving the UFC, and she has made it obvious that she wants another chance at promotion and a showdown with Shevchenko in the future.
Nakai has been vocal about her desire to fight Shevchenko and the reigning UFC champion recently responded as well.
“@RinNakai2 Come back to .@ufc get yourself into to #Top10 and I am willing to check your skills Also congratulations with your recent victory,” Shechenko had tweeted
She further went on to double down on the same during the UFC 285 press conference.
“I think she's like old school fighter who was the first Japanese Fighter fighting in UFC and now has this successful career. She is having I think 10, 10 wins so like by KO submission something like that and she deserves to be in UFC. It doesn't mean that she can like come straight from Japan to here and fight for the title,” Shevchenko said.
Shevchenko concluded that if Rin Nakai can get back in the UFC and enter the top 10, she would think of fighting her.
“If she can do that if she can like go back to UFC if she can claim up to the top 10. It's hard and difficult I say because this competition is very hard if she can do that why not,” Shevchenko said.
What do you think of a fight between the two? Let us know in the comments below.