Make it four in a row for Valentina Shevchenko. Bullet once again successfully defended her UFC women's flyweight title with a unanimous decision win over Jennifer Maia in the co-main event of UFC 255 from the Apex facility in Las Vegas.
The reigning champion relied on takedowns and a strong ground game to control her opponent through the fight and earn the nod on all three scorecards.
Shevchenko wasted no time in taking the fight to the mat in the first round. She used a trip from the clinch to get Maia to the ground. There was little damage done or dominance shown in the round but she did hold top position for the rest of the round.
The second round was a rare one lost for Bullet. Maia put up her up against the fence and took advantage of a failed takedown by her opponent and wound up in top position. It was by far the most time Shevchenko has spent under an opponent.
Shevchenko bounced back in the third round with some sharp left hands and a thunderous takedown of her own.
Going into the championship rounds Shevchenko's talent started to shine through. She was the quicker one to the punch in the striking battles and took Maia down with ease. Once on the mat, she was able to control Maia even with little damage she nullified anything her opponent did.
Shevchenko's title reign at 125 pounds now includes four title defenses, and none of them have been particularly close. She knocked out both Jessica Eye and Katlyn Chookagian between a decision win over Liz Carmouche.
The division has been tailor-made for Shevchenko. The only losses in her UFC career going back to 2015 have been against Amanda Nunes. The Lioness has been Shevchenko's kryptonite, taking the first fight by unanimous decision before taking a split decision at UFC 215 in 2017.
With three years gone by and Nunes continuing to dominate the bantamweight division, a trilogy fight between the two may gain some steam. For Shevchenko, she isn't quite ready for that yet.
"One day it's gonna come to the point when it's gonna [make] much more sense, and it's not gonna be other than to make this third fight." Shevchenko told TMZ Sports. "And when this day comes, it comes. But, now I'm not rushing it. I'm not trying to delay it. So I'm just living my life and waiting for when it comes, and I know for sure it comes."
For now, it appears Shevchenko believes she has work to do within her division before moving up for a third fight. The current No. 1-ranked fighter in the division is Jessica Andrade, who looked strong in her win over Chookagian in October.