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Daniel Cormier Explains Why Valentina Shevchenko Deserves “Credit” After UFC 285

Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier believes that Valentina Shevchenko deserves praise for inspiring the development of the flyweight division.

Heading into UFC 285 this past weekend, Shevchenko had amassed seven successful title defenses during one of the lengthiest reigns in the promotion. During her rule, “Bullet” pushed past challenges from the likes of former strawweight queen Jéssica Andrade, Jennifer Maia, Katlyn Chookagian, and Taila Santos.

But at T-Mobile Arena on March 4, Shevchenko met her match in the form of Alexa Grasso. In the pay-per-view co-main event, the Mexican upset the odds to dethrone the longtime 125-pound champ in the fourth round, locking in a tight face crank for the submission win.

While the result provided one of the biggest shocks in recent memory, Shevchenko’s unbeatable aura had already taken a hit courtesy of Santos’ efforts in Singapore last June.

With the Brazilian’s display, as well as the likes of Erin Blanchfield and Manon Fiorot establishing themselves as legitimate threats to the throne, it’s safe to say that the flyweight division is booming when it comes to competitive competition.

For that, Cormier credits one woman.

Cormier: ‘Hats Off To Shevchenko For Raising The Level’

During the most recent episode of ESPN MMA’s DC & RC show, Cormier reflected on the end of Shevchenko’s reign this past Saturday in Las Vegas.

Beyond her personal achievements in the sport, “DC” praised the 35-year-old Kyrgyzstani for the impact she’s had on the 125-pound division as a whole, crediting her for improving the level of fighter currently rising the ranks.

“More than anything, RC, I think we have to give credit to Alexa Grasso and to Valentina Shevchenko,” Cormier said. “I get it, she lost her title. But Ryan, I say we have to give Valentina credit for this reason and this reason only: she elevated the entire division. She made everybody better, because she was so good that if you didn’t improve to that next level, you wouldn’t even have a chance.

“That’s why the older fighters that she was fighting earlier in her career and dominating didn’t have a chance against her. Because she was so much further in front of them. But all those young athletes that were coming up — the Taila Santos, who made her debut recently, the Alexa Grasso, who was at 115 (strawweight) and then went up — that whole time, they were not developed fully, they were getting better, and better, and better, knowing that when they got to the champ, they had to be at her level,” Cormier continued. “Hats off to Valentina for raising the level of fighter in this division overall.”

While UFC 285 seemingly marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in flyweight history, Shevchenko appears bent on returning to the throne. Both inside the Octagon post-fight and on social media, “Bullet” has called for an immediate chance at redemption.

Image: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Do you agree with Daniel Cormier? Is Valentina Shevchenko responsible for the growing level of competition in the flyweight division?

Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.

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