Valentina Shevchenko wants the UFC title and 'revenge' on Amanda Nunes
In her past two fights, Amanda Nunes has run roughshod over two UFC legends by submitting Miesha Tate to win the women's bantamweight title in July before blitzing Ronda Rousey with punches to defend her belt for the first time this past December.
While Nunes has laid waste to her last two opponents, Valentina Shevchenko stands as the one opponent she faced in 2016 who gave her a tougher test than anybody else.
Nunes and Shevchenko battled back and forth last March in a grueling three-round war that ended with the Brazilian bantamweight getting the nod by unanimous decision.
Shevchenko hasn't faced defeat very often during her fighting career, but knowing how close she was to beating Nunes certainly jabs at her a little bit more. Add to that, Nunes then went on to become champion before defending the belt against Rousey, and it only makes Shevchenko want the rematch even more.
"I know I will have my time of revenge," Shevchenko told the Fight Society podcast this week when asked about Nunes. "I will have time. I take it very easy.
"Right now, I'm focused on my fight and I don't want to think about what's next because I'm really focused on this fight exactly on 28th of January. I have to pass it, I have to win it and then I will start to think about the future."
This weekend, Shevchenko takes on former "Ultimate Fighter" winner Julianna Pena in the main event at FOX UFC Fight Night in Denver as the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked fighters in the division square off with a potential title shot on the line.
Since her first day arriving in the UFC, Shevchenko has targeted the title as her long-term goal but her path became much clearer after she won a lopsided decision over former champion Holly Holm last July.
Now Shevchenko believes that a win over Pena will likely put her in a perfect position to challenge for the belt later this year.
"I hope it will be like this, I hope very much and when I do win this fight it will give me the opportunity to fight for the title," Shevchenko said.
Being granted a title shot would also mean Shevchenko would have the opportunity to avenge her prior loss to Nunes as well.
Revenge against Nunes is clearly important to Shevchenko but capturing the title simultaneously would be the perfect storybook ending for her journey to become the best bantamweight fighter on the planet.
"It's both," Shevchenko said. "Of course my goal is to be the champion and of course I want revenge with Amanda because I feel much stronger and I know next time it will be a totally different result of the fight."
Shevchenko faces Pena in the main event at FOX UFC Fight Night from Denver this Saturday night with the main card starting at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. Check out the rest of Shevchenko's interview on the Fight Society podcast via Soundcloud or iTunes.