Shevchenko positive despite frustrating year, makes light of Montano's comments

Valentina Shevchenko lost a close decision to Amanda Nunes at UFC 215 in September for the bantamweight title. Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Valentina Shevchenko could probably unleash a very strong rant about 2017, if she felt so inclined. She would have more than enough material.

In July, she saw an entire training camp go to waste when Amanda Nunes withdrew from their UFC bantamweight title fight the day of the event due to illness.

Two months later, Shevchenko lost to Nunes via split decision. After reviewing the film several times, Shevchenko is thoroughly convinced she won the fight.

Earlier this month, the UFC held its first female flyweight title fight. Many observers believe Shevchenko is well-suited to dominate the newly opened 125-pound division, but she wasn't part of the UFC's inaugural championship.

And now, Nicco Montano, the first champion of the new division, is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Montano also has already stated she doesn't believe Shevchenko deserves to be her first challenger.

"I'm not angry at all about any of this," Shevchenko told ESPN. "I know nothing can change. Not everything happens as we want or desire. It doesn't matter. I'm a fighter, and I'm ready to fight every time."

Shevchenko (14-3) will return to competition on Feb. 3, when she meets UFC newcomer Priscila Cachoeira in Belem, Brazil. Cachoeira (8-0) is undefeated but virtually unknown to the UFC's fan base.

Shevchenko briefly pursued a January fight against the more established Paige VanZant (7-3) -- who is also looking for a 125-pound title shot -- but Shevchenko was told VanZant turned the fight down.

"To have an opportunity to fight for the title, you have to prove you deserve it against top opponents," Shevchenko said.

"To just say, 'I have the next title shot,' is not the right way. That's why I said, 'OK, Paige wants that, let's do a fight.' The information I have is she turned it down."

Concerning Montano's comments on Shevchenko not deserving a title shot, the Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian southpaw refused to make a big deal of it.

Montano (4-2), an American southpaw, is unable to defend the title as of right now anyway. Shevchenko said she'll play closer attention to the champion's point of view once that time comes.

"I've been in martial arts more than 20 years, I've seen fighters who barely have a professional fight say they're the best in the world," Shevchenko said. "I've seen many people use these words. At the end of the day, that doesn't matter. What matters is when the door closes and everyone clearly sees who deserves or does not deserve something.

"It doesn't matter what Nicco says right now. When she feels good, we can come back to this discussion. Let's see what is happening then."