5 Things You Should Know About Valentina Shevchenko

Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

After two failed attempts to procure Ultimate Fighting Championship gold as a bantamweight, Valentina Shevchenko reassessed her position and downshifted to 125 pounds. The decision could soon pay off in spades.

The fate of the vacant flyweight championship will hang in the balance when Shevchenko toes the line against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the UFC 231 co-main event on Saturday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Kyrgyzstani kickboxer has compiled a 4-2 record since joining the UFC roster in 2015, and she has done so against largely stellar competition. Wins over Sarah Kaufman, Holly Holm, Julianna Pena, and Priscila Cachoeira have been offset by two decision losses to reigning bantamweight titleholder Amanda Nunes. The 30-year-old Pavel Fedotov protégé last competed at UFC Fight Night 125 on Feb. 3, when she submitted Cachoeira with a second-round rear-naked choke and handed the Brazilian prospect her first professional defeat.

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As Shevchenko approaches her hotly anticipated battle with Jedrzejczyk, here are five things you should know about her:

1. She could not have prepared herself any better for hand-to-hand combat.

Shevchenko holds the Master of Sport designation in five different disciplines: Muay Thai, boxing, kickboxing, taekwondo, and judo.

Photo: Bruna Prado/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

2. She benefitted from a head start on her contemporaries.

A seasoned mixed martial arts veteran whose handlers wasted no time shuttling her into high-level competition, Shevchenko made her professional debut as a 15-year-old on April 21, 2003. She stopped Eliza Aidaralieva on second-round punches at a Kyrgyz Federation of Kulatuu event.

3. Her passport has gotten a workout.

Shevchenko has fought in 12 different countries over the course of her career as a boxer, kickboxer and mixed martial artist. They are the United States, Canada, Peru, South Korea, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Thailand, France, Brazil, and the Netherlands.

4. One-dimensional she is not.

Though known for her standup prowess, Shevchenko has proven to be just as capable on the ground. She has delivered seven of her 15 victories by submission: four by rear-naked choke, two by armbar and one by Ezekiel choke.

Shevchenko punches Priscila Cachoeira. Photo: Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

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5. Sometimes the numbers do not add up.

Shevchenko has been outstruck in four of her six UFC appearances, according to FightMetric data: 142-66 against Kaufman, 66-56 against Nunes, 78-46 against Pena and 90-85 against Nunes in their rematch. However, she did outperform Holm by a wide margin (119-73) in the UFC on Fox 20 main event in July 2016, and she was even more overwhelming against Cachoeira, outlanding the Parana Vale Tudo rep by a staggering 230-3 count.

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