“I think in the fourth, she got me a little bit,” Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) said backstage at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which hosted the pay-per-view headliner. “But I think it’s a unanimous decision. I think she won the fourth.”
Two of three judges gave Nunes 48-47 scores while one dissented 48-47 for Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in a closely contested – and tough to score – split decision.
The fight played out more like an intense sparring session than fight. Interestingly, Shevchenko was the consensus winner of three of five rounds, though scores were all over the place and ultimately went to Nunes.
Many boos accompanied the tactical fight, but champ Nunes said her priority was not on delivering a crowd-pleasing fight. Instead, she wanted to answer critics of her stamina.
“I wanted to make this fight for the crowd, but tonight, this fight was for me,” she said. “To go five rounds, to prove I’m the best, (and) that I’m here for a reason.”
Nunes admitted it was tough to maintain her composure after injuring her foot in the second round. Plus, the sinusitis that forced her to withdraw last-minute from a UFC 213 headliner against Shevchenko was once again in full effect. Then there were intruding thoughts about the fate of her new house and car, which are currently endangered by Hurricane Irma in her adopted homeland of South Florida.
“You work so hard to get them, and I’m here and I can’t do anything about it,” she said.
What Nunes can do now is fix the health problems that have hindered her career. She said she will next undergo corrective surgery for her sinuses, taking the rest of the year off to recover.
“This is the first thing,” she said. “It’s still very bad. I’m still very congested.
“I think I’m going to take some time off because this is my breathing, and I have to take care of it. Sometimes, I can’t sleep at night. I think I’m going to take a break, and next year, I will come back.”
When she does, she will find a very fired-up Shevchenko waiting. The Kyrgyzstan native said she’ll ask the UFC for a third fight and may appeal the result.
Nunes said she delayed surgery so she could shut up Shevchenko. She may not have succeeded in doing that, but as far as what happened in the octagon, she holds her head high.
“I saved a lot of energy and made her do all the work,” Nunes said. “This was the strategy. Make her miss, make her do all the work, and then wait for the best moments to change the rounds.