MMA: Title rematch on the cards as Shevchenko defeats Pena

Julianna Pena fends off strikes from Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko made Pena tap out in impressive fashion and is widely tipped to be the main title contender for Amanda Nunes' UFC women's Bantamweight belt.
Julianna Pena fends off strikes from Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko made Pena tap out in impressive fashion and is widely tipped to be the main title contender for Amanda Nunes' UFC women's Bantamweight belt.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DENVER (Colorado) • Valentina Shevchenko won the battle against Julianna Pena, then got into a war of words with UFC women's bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.

Nunes was cageside at UFC on FOX 23 on Saturday in what was billed as a contender fight to her belt.

And she saw Peruvian Shevchenko's second-round submission victory over Pena.

The finish came via armbar at 4min 29sec of the round, reported ESPN.

Nunes entered the octagon after the fight, where they traded insults.

Nunes and Shevchenko are familiar foes, with the Brazilian handing the muay thai specialist a loss by unanimous decision at UFC 196 last May 2016.

"Next time I will finish you," Nunes promised. "You know I'll beat you. I know how to beat you."

Shevchenko responded: "Be very careful with your words, they will come back to (haunt) you."

Shevchenko showed at the Pepsi Center that she cannot be underestimated. Experts had tipped the solid striker to dominate the action on her feet.

But she controlled the main event clash even when it went to the ground, where grappler Pena (9-3) was expected to hold an advantage.

Shevchenko had not submitted an opponent in 11 years. But in the last minute of the second round, she attacked the arm and rolled Pena over, forcing "The Venezuelan Vixen" to tap just before the bell.

"Many people asked me before the fight, 'Valentina, you are a striker, Julianna is a wrestler; how are you going to deal with this?' Every time, I said, 'Yes, I'm a striker, but I am an MMA fighter and I am a complete fighter," Shevchenko was quoted as saying on UFC.com.

"I'm pretty sure the next fight will be a title shot and I'm very excited to take the rematch and take this belt."

Shevchenko's only loss in the UFC was to Nunes.

"I know it will be a totally different fight with a totally different result," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Title rematch on the cards as Shevchenko defeats Pena'. Print Edition | Subscribe