The Shevchenko sisters make mixed martial arts history, it’s just what they do.
First they became the first pair of sisters to both be UFC fighters and then Valentina Shevchenko (31) won UFC gold by defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 last December. On Saturday, at UFC Saint Petersburg, Antonina Shevchenko (34) will be part of the UFC’s first ever women’s bout in Russia.
Ushering in UFC women’s MMA to Russia is something that Antonina is honored to do.
“I’m very proud to be the first UFC women’s fight in Russia,” Antonina said. “Because it’s the second UFC event (in Russia) and first women’s fight and that’s what makes me more motivated to show good fight and good technique.”
Making history with her is UFC veteran Roxanne Modafferi, who is looking to bounce back after a tough loss to Sijara Eubanks. The match-up with “The Happy Fighter” is particularly exciting for Antonina because of Modafferi’s rank in the flyweight division.
The opportunity to start climbing the rankings is something that Antonina doesn’t take lightly and she has made sure to as prepared as possible for Saturday.
“We had a very good training camp for this fight in Thailand at Tiger Muay Thai Gym,” Antonina said. “I’m feeling great. My training camp was focused on power and training for my opponent’s style.”
Antonina spends her time outside of MMA shooting guns, traveling, swimming and hiking but her focus never strays from training. That determination and passion is what led her to capture a win and UFC contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. She then followed up that performance by defeating Ji Yeon Kim at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale.
“Pantera” is thrilled to finally be fighting again, after months of training and cannot wait for that Octagon door to close on Saturday. Another reason that she is excited to fight is that Modafferi and Antonina have engaged in a little Twitter trash-talking. First it was Modafferi making an Avengers reference saying that UFC Saint Petersburg is Antonina’s “end game.” Then Antonina responded by informing Modafferi that she is going to knock her out in the first round.
“I decided to finish this conversation to comeback and to prepare for what I promise to her,” Antonina said. “I promised her this and I trained for this. So of course my goal for this is (to do) what I promised (knock Modafferi out in the first round).”
A win over Modafferi in spectacular fashion would do big-things for Antonina, and could very well launch her up the rankings. But she isn’t looking ahead, she’s taking Modafferi very seriously.
“My goal is to climb up the rankings,” Antonina said. “That’s why this victory is important for me. But she’s ranked that high for a reason and she’s a serious opponent. She’s a very experienced fighter and I understand her strengths and weaknesses but I really believe that I can get the victory in this fight.”
Antonina doesn’t believe the recipe for a victory on Saturday will be tough to cook up, as she is confident in what she brings to the cage.
“My keys for the victory in this is just to fight my technique which is muay thai style,” Antonina said. “And to show my abilities every in MMA rules. You never know where the fight will be. It could be stand-up or grappling, I have to be better everywhere to win this fight.”
Make sure you tune into ESPN+ on Saturday night to see which fighter backs up their talk.
The UFC Saint Petersburg early prelims begin at 10:15am/7:15am ETPT on ESPN2 and the main card will air live on ESPN+ at 1pm/10:15am ETPT.
Gavin Porter is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com, follow him on Twitter at @PorterUFCNews