Saturday’s UFC Fight Night from Belem, Brazil was an event for the hardcore fans that can still enjoy a card stacked with South American fighters lacking Wikipedia entries. But even those folks probably wrapped up their viewing experience a bit disturbed by the horrible mismatch they witnessed in the co-main event between No. 1 ranked former bantamweight Valentina Shevchenko and unranked UFC newcomer Priscila Cachoeira.
On paper, the fight looked bad. It got even worse in reality as it was clear from the first exchange that Cachoeira wasn’t on the same level as Shevchenko. Valentina, a fighter with several shelves worth of kickboxing titles, responded to Priscila’s first feint with a lightning fast counter that dazed the Brazilian and sent her reeling backwards. From that moment on it was a one sided beatdown on the feet and eventually on the ground, where Shevchenko unleashed an endless torrent of elbows on her bloodied opponent.
The fight would continue until the 4:30 mark of round 2, when Shevchenko gave up on trying to force a stoppage via strikes from referee Mario Yamasaki and sunk in a rear naked choke. Afterwards, UFC president Dana White went on Instagram to bash Yamasaki for not stepping in sooner.
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Priscilla Cachoeira, you showed so much heart and toughness in that fight. I’m honored to have you fight in the UFC. Unfortunately the ref is there to protect you and Mario DID NOT do that. This isn’t his first disgusting performance in the octagon. Another unfortunate thing is that i can’t do anything about I️t only the Brazilian commission can and i am hoping after this scary, incompetent showing he hopefully will never set foot in that Octagon again. Strikes landed was 230-3.
“Priscilla Cachoeira, you showed so much heart and toughness in that fight,” White wrote on Instagram. “I’m honored to have you fight in the UFC. Unfortunately the ref is there to protect you and Mario DID NOT do that. This isn’t his first disgusting performance in the Octagon. Another unfortunate thing is that I can’t do anything about it only the Brazilian commission can and i am hoping after this scary, incompetent showing he hopefully will never set foot in that Octagon again. Strikes landed was 230-3.”
That’s not a stats error either: Cachoeira only managed to land three punches, compared to Shevchenko’s 230-strike assault. There’s certainly blame to throw the referee’s way for not stopping the fight sooner, but what Cachoeira lacked in offense she made up for in scrappiness, heeding the ref’s demands to defend and improve position before he’d move in and call things off. That didn’t stop Shevchenko from trapping her again immediately after and dropping more hard elbows on her face, though.
All in all, it was an ugly fight that should never have happened. The UFC shouldn’t have booked it, and the Brazilian MMA commission shouldn’t have sanctioned it. The ref should have stopped it earlier, and Cachoeira’s corner should have thrown in the towel. There’s more than enough blame to go around on fight night, but the whole thing started when someone decided it was a good idea to have Cachoeira face Shevchenko in her first UFC fight.
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