Valentina Shevchenko Urges Zhang Weili To Defend Strawweight Crown Before Flyweight Excursion

Photo Credit: Reinaldo Reginato – Global Look Press

In an era of mixed-martial-arts dominated by ‘superfights’, ‘moneyfights’ and champion’s chasing a second title success – reigning flyweight best, Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko is eager to call a halt to such talk. The 125-pound best looks to lodge the third defense of her flyweight throne this weekend in the co-main event of UFC 247 – as she throws down with perennial number-one contender, Katlyn Chookagian – and ahead of the tie, has issued a word of warning to possible division mover, strawweight queen, Zhang Weili.

The Hebei native will attempt to successfully prevent former champion, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, from regaining champions status at UFC 248 in March – and since her dethroning of Brazil’s, Jéssica Andrade last year – has filtered with the notion of becoming a two-weight world champion.

Speaking with MMA Fighting’sDamon Martin, Shevchenko urged Weili to first, clear out her own strawweight division – before she would entertain a champion versus champion match up with the promotion’s first Chinese gold-holder.

My thoughts on this, as you mentioned, inside the 125 (pound) division, I agree to fight with anyone who goes all the way on the top, gets their position and ready for the fight, ready for the title,” Shevchenko said. “I accept to take anyone. But you know, for example, in this situation (against Weili) with a different weight class it’s not just like – I accept it, I take it. I think that the person who tries to get this fight has to show and prove that she’s deserving this (sic) opportunity.

A few months ago, nobody knew the name of the Chinese girl (Zhang) Weili. I don’t know what number she was but because of lucky circumstances, she became champion but still has to prove that she is in the right place and she’s there because no one is better than her. Because in my opinion, she still has Joanna (Jędrzejczyk), she’s a very hard test for her. She has Rose (Namajunas) and she’s also a very hard test for her and she has Tatiana Suarez. So, before she proves that she’s better than them, I think it’s not right to jump over the stairs. It’s not right.

For Shevchenko, a flyweight calling came after a second, contentious defeat to reigning bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes – and has since gone on to dominate the flyweight ranks ever since. After a brutal beatdown of Priscila Cachoeira – Shevchenko earned a shot at the flyweight throne, and outpointed the previously noted Jędrzejczyk, via a unanimous decision win. In her first outing as champion, ‘Bullet’ managed a highlight-reel second-round high-kick knockout of Jessica Eye, before avenging an earlier career defeat to Liz Carmouche – in a less than memorable re-run.

In terms of clearing out her own division, Shevchenko is tasked with tackling Katlyn Chookagian this weekend, with contenders such as Joanne Calderwood, and fellow UFC 247 features – Lauren Murphy, and Andrea Lee.

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