Post-Fight Thoughts: Valentina Shevchenko -vs- Katlyn Chookagian
I ended up getting the outcomes for the main and co-main events reversed, as Valentina Shevchenko found herself matched up with someone who actually closed distance with her — creating a lot of opportunities for violence. Katlyn Chookagian was fearless, however she was equal parts ineffective despite her courage. Shevchenko was able to buzzsaw through her opponent, outstriking Chookagian handily and taking her down at will. By the end of the first round, Chookagian went back to her corner with a huge cut opened above her left eye, the result of a single grounded elbow strike.
Things only got worse from there, as Chookagian relentlessly pursued Shevchenko but couldn't land any significant offence and absorbed a lot of damage for her efforts. Again, Shevchenko took Chookagian down and racked up another dominant round. In the third, the champ seemed to realise she could do literally anything she wanted and shot for another takedown. From there, Shevchenko moved to a crucifix mount and waylaid Katlyn Chookagian with unanswerable punches and elbows, forcing the referee to intervene.
I expected a much longer, much less entertaining fight. My assumption was that Chookagian would maintain more distance than she did; I didn't expect her to try and walk Shevchenko down. Also, Valentina was a lot more proactive than I expected, given her defence-first approach to so many of her past fights. I definitely underestimated the gulf in skill between the champion and challenger — Valentina outclassed Chookagian in every possible manner. Chookagian is a tough out for her fellow flyweights, but Shevchenko is on an entirely different level than everyone else.
At this point, it seems as though there is no woman in the flyweight division with a clear path to victory over Valentina Shevchenko. I have no idea who to match her up with next, although I don't think it matters much. The division needs time to grow and evolve; women's MMA is developing and the baseline skill level is rising every year. Still, it is going to be quite a while before anyone poses a credible threat to Valentina Shevchenko; this title reign looks like it's going to be a very, very long one.
As someone who can appreciate some of the technical aspects of Valentina's less entertaining fights, I am quite fine if we just see her wreck shop and annihilate hapless victims for the next year or so. The rest of the division will catch up to her at some point but, for now, I am content to sit back and watch the carnage.
Published: February 9th, 2020.