Valentina Shevchenko has finally spoken out about her loss to Alexa Grasso at UFC 285, and she's placing the blame on someone else.
While appearing on The MMA Hour on Monday, Shevchenko revealed that she thinks veteran, and highly respected MMA referee, Jason Herzog was partially to blame for her performance, and she says it's not the first time she's noticed it.
“You asked me how I felt during the fight, and now, thinking about that, I think some kind of small situation, like what happened in the fight could affect performance, or how you feel,” Shevchenko said. “For example, before right now, I never thought about this, but it’s very clear in my mind, a few actions that the referee did in the fight, I completely don’t understand why he did that. Because he was refereeing my two last fights, and first fight, with Taila [Santos] in Singapore, I thought it could be the situation or something like this, but there was a combination where I strike and ended the combination with a head kick, and I felt Taila [got hurt] and I wanted to finish the fight, but he stopped the fight and he let her breathe. I was like, ‘OK, this doesn’t sound right, but maybe it was just the situation.
She continued to explain her reasons for the most recent fight, as well.
"But in this fight, we were on the ground position, I was in her guard and landing big shots over her, and he just decided to stand us up and continue the striking. It’s kind of the same situation where I say it could affect the fighter, what they do to take their opponent down. They spend so much energy to [score a] takedown first, and second to hold them down, and when you [get a takedown] you definitely want to use the situation because you spend so much energy. And when it was decided, ‘Oh no, in my opinion, you don’t have to be there. You have to fight in the stand-up,’ it’s kind of working against you because it affects your performance because you have to build the situation all over again.”
Looking back on the fights she referenced, Herzog appears to have had a legitimate reason for acting the way he did.
Specifically, against Grasso, Herzog called for a standup after Shevchenko had held the top position for almost two minutes without any work on the ground to improve the position. This is routinely done in many fights.
“It could be a [combination] of all these little situations together, that’s why it happened, what happened at the end,” Shevchenko said. “This action is hard to understand for me why it was when it was, because when I watch the fight, it’s not my fault that Alexa couldn’t go out from that position, because I was holding her very tight, and in the moment I started to land big shots, he just decided to stand us up.”
Ultimately, whatever the reason, Shevchenko lost the fight and will likely have a rematch in hopes of earning her title back. There's no word on who would referee that fight, if it happens.