Nunes keeps belt, defeats Shevchenko at UFC 215 in Edmonton

PERRY NELSON  USA TODAY 
 
   Amanda Nunes fights Valentina Shevchenko during UFC 215

Nunes parlayed her win over Shevchenko into a title shot against then belt holder Meisha Tate and Nunes made good, submitting Tate and grabbing the 135-pound UFC title.

In a hotly-contested split decision, Nunes (15-4) retained her UFC women's bantamweight title over Valentina Shevchenko (14-3) in their rematch at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

It was a careful fight with few extended skirmishes until Nunes took Shevchenko to the canvas in the fifth round. But the fight wasn't the exciting slugfest many had expected and by the middle of the bout, Edmonton fans were chanting, "Let's go Oilers", after NHL MVP Connor McDavid and some of his teammates were shown on the scoreboard.

"I definitely won this fight", she said. I'm here to stay. Why she is still (champion), I don't understand'. An exchange of kicks to the upper leg marked the final minue, and with time running out, it was Shevchenko who was the more aggressive fighter.

"I honestly don't care in this moment", Nunes said, per Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports.

"I wasn't concerned with anything", she said, beaming.

MMA DFS Playbook: UFC 215
UFC 215 Predictions: Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko 9/9/17

"This time Big John was a little bit more forceful, telling Nunes to close her "******* hands". It's hard to say, because the UFC has to make the decision.

Nunes, a native of Brazil, was victorious by decision in their first meeting at UFC 196 in 2016 despite fading late in their three-round fight. Nunes held the center of the cage early, bringing the attack to her opponent, who looked ready to counter. In December she faced Ronda Rousey upon the ex-champ's return and Nunes wiped out Rousey in less than a minute.

Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (26-9) is making a run up the welterweight division.

A flyweight contender bout between Henry Cejudo and Wilson Reis was moved to the pay-per-view card, which begins at 7 p.m.

Swedish veteran Ilir Latifi lived up to his Sledgehammer nickname, lifting up and pile-driving Australian upstart Tyson Pedro head first to the mat in a light heavyweight tilt. That was enough to earn Latifi a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) and his fourth victory in his past five fights.

The preliminary card is headlined by a bout between Sara McMann, a former title challenger, and Ketlen Vieira, while the main card will open with a bout between Gilbert Melendez and Jeremy Stephens. Stephens won by unanimous decision.

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