Amanda Nunes retained her bantamweight title tonight by split decision after an extremely close fight with Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215.
The main event women’s bantamweight title fight is underway in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada!
Leg kick for Shevchenko to start as Nunes looks to do likewise. Calf kick for Nunes – the trend of this evening as Gilbert Melendez can grimly testify.
Nunes in the center of the Octagon and lands a front kick to the body. Leg kick for Shevchenko. Another one connects. She steps in with a jab. Nunes with her own leg kick.
Nunes not as fast starting here tonight as we’ve seen in the past – perhaps wisely conserving energy for a potential five-round fight that could be ahead of her.
Nunes with a body kick and then to the leg. Another leg kick. Shevchenko pumps the jab. Inside leg kick for Nunes. The champion is continuing to pepper the challenger’s leg with kicks and then one of the body too. Shevchenko tries for a head kick, but doesn’t connect.
Nice punch for Shevchenko. She catches a leg, but is unable to take Nunes down and eats a punch for her troubles. Leg kick for Shevchenko, but Nunes catches it and trips the challenger, who does a good job of retaining her balance.
Shevchenko heads to her corner and points to her hand as if she may have hurt a finger, but there’s not doubt she wants to continue fighting.
Oblique kick for Nunes. Leg kick for Shevcheko and both ladies have some redness on their lead legs at this relatively early stage in the fight.
Straight left for Shevchenko. Another left gets through for the challenger as Nunes is looking to land herself. Nunes attacks and lands a front kick to the body. Superman punch for Shevchenko.
Shevchenko again looks for the superman punch, but doesn’t commit to it this time. Shevchenko is finding a home for some punches in this second round though.
Nunes tries for a head kick, but Shevchenko is out of range. Back to the superman punch for Shevchenko.
Leg kick for Nunes and Shevchenko attempts a spinning backfist counter that doesn’t pay off. Nice leg kick for Nunes. Nunes feeling out with the jab but not committing to it. Oblique kick for the Brazilian.
Nunes with a jab. left for Shevchenko. Head movement keeps a left hand from Nunes landing. Leg kick for Shevchenko. Good right hand for the challenger towards the end of the round. Nunes responds with a body kick.
Both fighters feeling for leg kicks but not landing. Shevchenko with a short flurry as Nunes tries to attack. Nunes misses with a head kick.
Nunes steps into a jab. Oblique kick for the champ. Shevchenko with a leg kick. Now nother one. Jab for the champ. Front kick at close range from Nunes.
In close Shevchenko throws up a knee. Brief exchange at close range again with a left hook from Shevchenko flying just overhead.
Nunes tries for a spinning backfist, but Shevchenko reads it and land a counter punch. Shevchenko trying for a spinning attack , but it doesn’t pay off either.
Both ladies land a left hand apiece. Oblique kick for Nunes and then doubles up on it. Superman punch attempt from Shevchenko.
‘Big John McCarthy warns Nunes about her open hand. Good left hand for Shevchenko. A couple of front kicks to the body for Nunes. Shevchenko walks about to her corner with blood trickling from a cut to her shin that happened earlier in the round.
Nunes fired up in-between rounds, shouting “Lets go!” Very close fight up to this point though.
Leg kicks to start from both ladies, but Nunes working more of them. Shevchenko with a couple of fast combos of punches, but Nunes lands a counter punch.
Nice one-two for Shevchenko lands. Nunes with a kick. Oblique kick for her, outside leg kick for Shevchenko. Punch and then a leg kick for Shevchenko.
Nunes continuing to tenderize Shevchenko’s lead leg. Nice counter punch from Shevchenko as the champ come sforward. Shevchenko with a brief clinch and lands a couple of knees to the body.
Exchange of leg kicks and then Shevchenko lands with a flurry of punches. Nunes still looks fairly fresh in the championship rounds, but she’s not putting together her offense the way we’ve seen from her in the past – and that’s partly a testament to Shevchenko’s equally high-level striking.
Shevchenko’s hands flash off another combo. Nunes settling for more kicks downstairs. Superman punch for Shevchenko doesn’t land, but she’s keeping busy behind that with more strikes, but they don’t find the mark either. In a close round this kind of pressure could make a difference though.
Ref tells them to go after it in the final round. THey oblige with an early exchange of punches at close range that comes off even.
Shevchenko misses with a one-two. Punch lands for the challenger. Both ladies somewhat cautious, but then Nunes bursts into a takedown attempt. Shevchenko keeps on her feet though as Nunes works her to the cage.
In the end NUnes has to give up the position and goes back to striking range with half the round remaining. Inside leg kick for the champion. Knee to the body inside from Shevchenko.
Shevchenko attempts a head lock takedown, but it fails and results in Nunes taking her back while the challenger is turtled on her knees.
Shevchenko able to stand and eats a knee from Nunes in the process. Nunes pressing her to the cage and at first Shevchenko defends well, but then the champion does manage to get her down.
THis is crucial for the champion if she wants to retain her title. She’s in Nunes guard and seems happy to remain here in the final seconds.
Nunes seems to be saying something angrily to Shevchenko in those final seconds and both women are still trying to fight after the bell! They are quickly broken apart before things get too ugly though.
Extremely close fight then and it’ll be interesting to see what the judges have decided. THere’s a double-check of the scorecards from Bruce Buffer.
Finally it’s time to learn the result and it’s a split decision verdict that sees Amanda Nunes retain her title by a narrow margin (48-47 x2, 47-48).
Shevchenko is absolutely livid with the decision and let’s Joe Rogan know about it in her post-fight interview, but that won’t change the result and Nunes survives arguably her toughest test for a second time.