The two sides of UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published ahead of UFC 275. Valentina Shevchenko defeated Thalia Santos at that event. Shevchenko once defended her title at UFC 285 against Alexa Grasso.

LAS VEGAS – On December 28, 2020, UFC Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko is invited to a Roaring 20s themed party to celebrate the New Year in Kyrgyzstan.

“Oh my God, three more days until New Years and I don’t have a dress,” Shevchenko recalled to Sportzshala two weeks before her title defense against Tayla Santos at UFC 275.

Like the fairy godmother Cinderella, Aisalkyn Ismailova met with Shevchenko at the last minute to take her measurements. She told Shevchenko that she would make the dress even if she was awake. The next day, she gave the champion a beautiful party dress.

“The best thing about being at home in Kyrgyzstan is that you have so many talented people around you,” Shevchenko said. “It’s about real desire and love for your work. They want to be the best at what they do and create happiness for their clients.”

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Shevchenko got to the ball by midnight, like in a fairy tale, but her story is more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or rather, she is both Beauty and the Beast. Her upbringing in Kyrgyzstan and lifelong dedication to the martial arts have provided her with a unique lifestyle that offers a wide range of combat and glory.

“In ordinary life, I can be gentle, but I will not let someone dictate what I do. I do what I want, I think that’s my animal side,” Shevchenko said with a laugh. “I don’t go around and yell at people because martial arts teach me that you have to be respectful. But you have to be in control of everything, no matter the situation. You have to think about what you are doing because there are all consequences.”

Her meticulous nature is shown when Shevchenko, 34, arranges her team by height for a post-morning photo session, telling each member of her training camp exactly where to stand or kneel for the right shot. But when she’s not in training camp before a fight, she explains, her behavior is very different.

“There are two sides to my life,” Shevchenko said. “I would say that martial arts is my number one, but I love to travel, to be in nature, and I love these glamorous photo shoots where I can express myself. to another mode.

Classes outside of the fight help her relax, but while preparing for a fight, Shevchenko likes to focus 100% on her opponent and her performance in the octagon. Although she loves to look pretty and dress up, she keeps it up after she wins a fight and her mission is complete.

“When I’m there, the camera is on, you have an outfit and the right vibe, it’s like a transformation. It’s nice. I really enjoy this process,” she said.

Last year, Shevchenko was able to combine both sides of her personality with her debut film, Bruises, on Netflix. Playing a role that mimics her own life, Shevchenko portrayed a fighter named Lady Killer alongside Halle Berry. She said she thinks her tougher side can still show elegance outside of the cage.

“Everything is different. All women are beautiful in combat because it is the beauty of a trained body,” she said. “How you can control your body, how you can strike, how your eyes are focused on your target. You want to win the fight. It is very dangerous. It’s powerful, that confidence.”

But once the fight is over, the thinking changes and the dancing begins.

“It’s already inside me, so it’s natural, it just matters which mode I turn on,” Shevchenko said. “It’s all together – this beauty and the beast.”


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