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SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan reacts after the conclusion of their UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 275 event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Nolan Walker/Zuffa LLC)
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Where We Stand: Women's Flyweight Division | June 2022

After Another Defense Of Her Title, Valentina Shevchenko Waits For The Division To Present Another Challenger

For a few seconds as the scorecards were read, the flyweight title felt in the balance as much as it ever has since Valentina Shevchenko took the throne in December 2018. One judge saw it for Taila Santos, but Bruce Buffer once again announced “And Still,” and Shevchenko’s reign soldiered along a little more nervously than usual. 

After a few years of outright dominance, the 125-pound division is experiencing an influx of fresher talent that is eager to get their chance to unseat Shevchenko. 

This is where we stand in the women’s flyweight division:

Champion: Valentina Shevchenko

Last Fight: Split Decision Win vs Taila Santos (6/11/2022)

Next fight: N/A

Valentina Shevchenko and Taila Santos react after their UFC flyweight championship fight at UFC 275

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: (R-L) Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan and Taila Santos of Brazil react after the conclusion of their UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 275 event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Outlook: Shevchenko, perhaps for the first time in a real sense, looked human against Taila Santos as the Brazilian succeeded in bringing the champion down time and again, but in the championship rounds, “Bullet” surged strongly enough to get the nod from the judges. It was perhaps her least convincing win as champion, but a champion’s win, nonetheless. After the fight, she mused on a couple possibilities for her next fight. First, she seemed to anoint Miesha Tate as the next challenger provided the former champion gets past Lauren Murphy at UFC 276. She also said she has her eyes, naturally, on the bantamweight title fight rematch between Julianna Peña and Amanda Nunes at UFC 277. At this point, Shevchenko has earned the right to do whatever she wants, and both possibilities have storylines galore.

UFC 275 Rewind: Results, Highlights & More | 1) Katlyn Chookagian1) Katlyn Chookagian | Who Won Bonuses? | The Scorecard

1) Katlyn Chookagian

Last Fight: Split Decision Win vs Amanda Ribas (5/14/2022)

Next fight: N/A

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 14: (R-L) Katlyn Chookagian punches Amanda Ribas of Brazil in a flyweight fight at UFC APEX on May 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 14: (R-L) Katlyn Chookagian punches Amanda Ribas of Brazil in a flyweight fight at UFC APEX on May 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Outlook: “Blonde Fighter” did against Amanda Ribas what she has done for the better part of her run at flyweight: turn back a hopeful up-and-comer with a technically sharp performance. Chookagian is the first to acknowledge that she is always a few wins away from earning another chance at the belt, but she also just keeps winning. She expressed interest in fighting Manon Fiorot in Paris, but an injury scrapped that matchup. Chookagian, luckily for the division, is pretty open to fighting anyone they give her, so she’s always in the mix for a top-tier fight at 125.

2) Taila Santos

Last Fight: Split Decision Loss vs Valentina Shevchenko (6/11/2022)

Next fight: N/A

Taila Santos of Brazil punches Joanne Wood of Scotland in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Taila Santos of Brazil punches Joanne Wood of Scotland in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


Outlook: Santos was one of the first to admit she was surprised to earn a title shot so quickly, but such is life right now in the flyweight division. However, she made the most of her opportunity, pushing Shevchenko as much as anyone has at 125 pounds. Alas, it wasn’t to be for the Brazilian, who actually moved up in the rankings after the loss. Now, she is in the same position as many of her Top 5 compatriots: in need of a few dominant wins to suggest another crack at the title. As a fresher face, however, there are a plethora of options for Santos, who is still just 28 years old.

3) Lauren Murphy

Last Fight: TKO Loss vs Valentina Shevchenko (9/25/2021)

Next fight: vs Miesha Tate (7/2/2022)

Lauren Murphy training for UFC 266

Outlook: After a disappointing effort in her title shot, Lauren Murphy can bounce back with a signature win over Miesha Tate during International Fight Week. Although the win likely won’t earn her a title shot, it could put her in position to fight either Santos or the winner of Jessica Andrade and Manon Fiorot later in the year. Murphy’s path back to title contention is a little murky after her efforts at UFC 266, but as people continue to chip at Shevchenko, the better things look for Murphy’s championship aspirations.

4) Jéssica Andrade

Last Fight: Submission Win vs Amanda Lemos (4/23/2022)

Next fight: vs Manon Fiorot (9/3/2022)

Jessica Andrade of Brazil poses on the scale during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on April 22, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Jessica Andrade of Brazil poses on the scale during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on April 22, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


Outlook: Brazil’s Andrade seemed to put herself back into the mix at strawweight with a submission win over Amanda Lemos, but it seems the former champion is down to yo-yo between the two divisions with the aim of getting another shot at either title. Stepping up to face the fast-rising and highly regarded Fiorot is another chapter in that book, and it’s a fight that could very well boost her at 115 as well.

5) Alexa Grasso

Last Fight: Submission Win vs Joanne Wood (3/28/2022)

Next fight: N/A

Alexa Grasso of Mexico attempts to submit Karolina Kowalkiewicz of Poland in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC 238 event at the United Center on June 8, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Alexa Grasso of Mexico attempts to submit Karolina Kowalkiewicz of Poland in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC 238 event at the United Center on June 8, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Outlook: Mexico’s Grasso finally got that signature win she searched for in Columbus, producing a rather dominant win over Joanne Wood. Still just 28, Grasso seems to have finally found her groove thanks to a move up to 125. She now rides a three-fight winning streak and very much deserves a Top 5 matchup. Whether that comes against veterans like Chookagian and Murphy or a fellow young riser like Santos, Grasso is worthy of any of it. Long touted as talented enough to be a contender, Grasso seems to have put things together to surge toward title contention sooner rather than later.

In the Mix: Manon Fiorot, Viviane Araujo, Casey O’Neill, Erin BlanchfieldMiesha Tate

Outlook: Flyweight holds perhaps the most intriguing mix of non-Top 5 and unranked fighters because of the influx of newer talent. Fiorot seems destined for a title shot soon, and a win over Andrade in Paris (an extremely tall order) could see her challenge Shevchenko early in 2023. Araújo has a bit more experience under her belt. After stumbling against Chookagian (add her to the list of many), she bounced back well against the in-form Andrea Lee and is deserving of a Top 5 matchup as well.

In terms of the young talent in the division, Casey O’Neill was on a fast path to contention before suffering a knee injury that has kept her out since February. The 24-year-old has it all ahead of her, however, once she eventually returns. Erin Blanchfield is the newest face in the Top 15, and she has shown great potential, composure and skill at just 23 years old. Former bantamweight champion Meisha Tate returned to the organization strongly and is set to make her 125-pound debut against Lauren Murphy. Shevchenko touted Tate as the potential next-in-line if she is victorious in July.