Valentina Shevchenko brutally TKOs Lauren Murphy for sixth flyweight title defense

·Combat columnist
·2-min read

LAS VEGAS — It was from her greatest performance, but Valentina Shevchenko has lapped the field by such a large margin that she doesn’t need to be at her best to win.

Shevchenko totally shut down Lauren Murphy’s offense Saturday and controlled the fight throughout, before stopping Murphy at four minutes of the fourth round to retain her flyweight title in the co-main event of UFC 266 at T-Mobile Arena.

So impressive is Shevchenko that after he was done interviewing her in the cage, former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier asked if he could pose with her for a picture.

The beginning of the end came when Shevchenko caught Murphy with a check hook that sent Murphy stumbling across the cage. Shevchenko is a great finisher and it was obvious she sensed a kill.

She sped across the cage and quickly got Murphy down. Once there, it was all she wrote. Shevchenko was flawless, dropping elbows and hammerfists on a defenseless Murphy.

“I’ll fight anyone,” said Shevchenko, who has now won eight in a row and 10 of her last 11 and has never lost at flyweight.

The question is, who will want to fight her? Murphy came into the bout on a five-fight winning streak and was durable and opportunistic during the streak.

She had literally no chance. She had virtually zero offense. According to UFCstats, she landed 11 of 90 significant strikes, but none were truly memorable.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 25: (L-R) Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan kicks Lauren Murphy in their UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 25: (L-R) Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan kicks Lauren Murphy in their UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

That’s what makes Shevchenko so special. She knows how to negate her opponent and she can capitalize on even the smallest openings.

She wasn’t doing anything special offensively in the first three, but more than enough to win the rounds and swell up Murphy’s face. The moment that an opportunity presented itself, Shevchenko went for the kill and got it.

The only woman in the UFC who is competitive with her is bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes. Nunes won two closes decisions over Shevchenko at bantamweight, and UFC president Dana White is open to a third bout between them.

Other than Nunes, though, there seems to be no one on the horizon who would have much of a chance against this dynamic fighter.

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