Shevchenko: Bantamweight title fight 'very possible' by late 2022
UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko could see herself returning to bantamweight and challenging for a second title by the end of the year.
"I think it's possible. It's very, very, very possible," Shevchenko said Monday on "The MMA Hour."
Shevchenko is scheduled to defend her belt against Taila Santos at UFC 275 on June 11. Shevchenko, one of the most dominant fighters in MMA, has already recorded six title defenses since becoming champion in 2018 and holds wins over the division's top three fighters.
If Shevchenko were to move back up to 135 pounds this year, her bantamweight title shot would presumably come against the winner of the rematch between champion Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes, which headlines UFC 277 on July 30.
Shevchenko has history with both women: She submitted Pena in 2017 to earn a bantamweight title shot against then-champ Nunes, to whom Shevchenko lost by split decision later that year. Shevchenko had previously fallen to Nunes in a 2016 non-title bout.
Though "Bullet" has largely cleaned out the 125-pound division and therefore will likely go for more UFC gold, another option if she gets past Santos is a matchup with former bantamweight champ Miesha Tate, Shevchenko said. Tate is slated to make her flyweight debut against Lauren Murphy at UFC 276 on July 2 and could immediately enter title contention with a victory.
"So many things can happen," Shevchenko said. "Many things can change."