Valentina Shevchenko retains UFC flyweight title in split decision

Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan reacts after her split-decision victory over Taila Santos of Brazil. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Valentina Shevchenko defended her flyweight championship for the seventh time at the UFC 275 co-main event Saturday in Singapore.

The 34-year-old narrowly defeated Taila Santos in a split decision, with two judges scoring the fight 49-46 and 48-47 for Shevchenko and one 48-47 for Santos.

Maintaining more control throughout the fight, Santos tested Shevchenko throughout the five rounds, especially in the opening frame, when the Brazilian capitalized on a rare mistake from Shevchenko.

The reigning champion, however, landed more damaging strikes, taking hold of the fight after an accidental head butt left Santos’s eye swollen shut.

“I did everything I had to do,” Shevchenko told reporters after UFC 275. “I had challenging fight. I had five rounds, and this is exactly what I wanted, an opponent who is not giving up in the first second and goes until the end. In this kind of fight you can show what you’re made of. Your character, your mindset. No matter how hard, no matter how difficult.”

Saturday’s victory marks Shevchenko’s ninth straight win, solidifying the run as the longest active winning streak of any UFC women’s fighter.