If things go as UFC women’s flyweight contender Antonina Shevchenko hopes, she’ll be making a statement at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 7.
“I’m preparing for everything because fights can come in different situations, and I am prepared for everything,” Shevchenko told MMA Junkie. “But every fighter wants an early victory. I want a KO.”
Shevchenko (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) takes on Roxanne Modafferi (22-15 MMA, 1-3 UFC) at UFC on ESPN+ 7, which takes place at Yubileyniy Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia, and streams live on ESPN+.
As a native of Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic, Shevchenko is thrilled at the opportunity to take part in the first women’s UFC contest to take place on Russian soil.
“Fighting in Russia is very exciting for me because we will be the first female fight in UFC Russia history, and that is very exciting,” Shevchenko said. “Also, my family is coming. My mom is here. My aunt is here. They will be at the fight. Many friends are coming from Russia, from our home country of Kyrgyzstan to support me, and our friends will be there, so that makes me very excited and very proud and makes me feel motivated to show a good fight.”
But perhaps even more exciting for Shevchenko is the matchup with Modafferi, an established veteran of the sport who has been competing professionally for more than 15 years.
While Shevchenko has only seven MMA bouts to her name, she has a lifetime of training in martial arts and a lengthy career in kickboxing and muay Thai, so she had no hesitation in taking on such an experienced foe.
“Of course I understand that she is an experienced fighter,” Shevchenko said of Modafferi. “She has many fights – 37 fights in MMA – good experience. She understands everything. She will do everything, but it’s my goal. I have to pass these kind of opponents. She is No. 7 in the rankings. My goal is to climb to the top of the division. I have to pass this kind of opponent to be on the top.”
It’s a lofty ambition for Shevchenko, who is competing for just the second time under the UFC banner. But after making her way to the UFC through a win on Dana White’s Contender Series in June and then debuting for the promotion with a dominating decision win over Ji Yeon Kim in November, Shevchenko said she’s hitting her stride.
Sure, the expectations she’s placing on herself are ambitious, but Shevchenko believes that much like her sister, current UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, she’s more than prepared.
“Of course you understand that you are in this big league of UFC, and it’s a huge step in my career, of course,” Shevchenko said. “Obviously there is responsibility of being Valentina’s sister, who is now a UFC champion. Of course it makes you feel like you have to get this victory. You have to win. You have to show yourself in your best shape and everything else, but on the other hand, it’s always about the fight. It’s always about the same thing. I have to enter the octagon and do what I’ve done for almost 20 years – nothing else. When you understand this, it makes it all easier.”
And Shevchenko will look to do exactly that on Saturday.
A victory against such an established opponent would go a long way toward proving her worth as a contender, and Shevchenko knows it. If she can add in a few style points, as well, all the better.
“She said she wants to submit me early.” Shevchenko said. “I said I want a KO early, so that’s what we want and what we are training for.”
- UFC on ESPN+ 7 breakdown: Is Alistair Overeem vs. Aleksei Oleinik made for 1st-round finish?
- UFC on ESPN+ 7 pre-event facts: Islam Makhachev least-hit fighter in UFC history
- Dual champ Amanda Nunes plans featherweight defense after Holly Holm fight at UFC 239
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Antonina Shevchenko hunting early KO in historic clash at UFC St. Petersburg