Valentina Shevchenko was irate, and rightly so. She’d just lost a razor-thin split decision to champion Amanda Nunes Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton in the main event of UFC 215, and she could hardly believe it.
She lost a shot at the women’s bantamweight title by the thinnest of margins. Two judges scored it 48-47 for Nunes and the third had it 48-47 for Shevchenko, as Nunes retained her title via split decision in one of the closest fights you’ll see. Yahoo Sports had it 48-47 for Nunes.
But if one of the two judges gone the other way in an unbelievably close final round, a new champion would have been crowned and it would have been Nunes and her fans who would have been screaming robbery and bloody murder.
Both women had a right to feel they won because there was so little to choose between them. This is what happens when two fighters with the same skills who are so evenly matched compete. They fought at UFC 196 19 months earlier and Nunes took another close decision in a non-title bout on March 5, 2016.
If there is a third fight, it would probably turn out the same way. The crowd booed the decision and many on the internet were screaming robbery, but it would likely have been the same thing had Shevchenko won. Then, fans would have been saying Shevchenko hadn’t definitively taken it from the champion.
Nunes had no issue with how it turned out, though. Asked if she was concerned when the decision was being read, she shook her head.
“I wasn’t concerned with anything,” she said, beaming.
Across the ring, Shevchenko stood in utter disbelief, her arms upraised as the crowd booed. She was angry and said Nunes, arguably the hardest-hitting woman in the sport, landed nothing of significance.
“Look at her face,” Shevchenko said, angrily. “Her nose is red from my punches. I really don’t understand why the decision went to the other side.”
Nunes scored a takedown in the final minute when Shevchenko went for a head-and-arm throw and failed to complete it. Nunes got her back at first, and then took her down, but did nothing with it. That, though, may have won her the fight.
Shevchenko spent the night looking to counter and to push the fight into the later rounds, because Nunes has been known to fade. But with little grappling, the match was essentially a kick boxing bout and it didn’t tax Nunes. She had plenty of energy as the second half of the fight unfolded.
“I made sure I knew she would be the one who would be tired, not me,” Nunes said.
The bout became the main event of the show late on Thursday when Ray Borg had to pull out of his bout with flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson because of a viral infection. But the fight wasn’t the exciting slugfest many had expected and by the middle of the bout, Edmonton fans were chanting, “Let’s go Oilers,” after NHL MVP Connor McDavid and some of his teammates were shown on the scoreboard.
Nunes was all smiles, though, and gleefully posed for photos with the hockey players later. Shevchenko remained steamed.
“I definitely won this fight,” she said. “I totally disagree with this decision.”
As did half of those who saw it. The other half, of course, thought Nunes had won it.
It was that kind of a fight.