Valentina Shevchenko will be looking to defend her flyweight title for a record eighth time when she faces Alexa Grasso at UFC 285. She has been preparing for the fight in Tokyo which is an unconventional choice of training camp.

But Shevchenko says she has always wanted to visit the country,

“Japan I wanted to visit always and it as on my list for a long time.”

Much has been made of her opponent’s boxing but Shevchenko is a Muay Thai veteran and is confident she will get the better of the striking exchanges,

“I don’t see anywhere as the best chance of winning for her. Even if she goes boxing or whatever, it’s good with me. Let’s do boxing let’s do Muay Thai, let’s do wrestling, whatever…” said Shevchenko.

Fear in her eyes

But Shevchenko sees fear in her opponent’s eyes and thinks this is why Grasso has refrained from indulging in any trash talk,

“It’s internal (Grasso’s fear.) It’s not about mental it’s not about physical it’s not about preparation. It’s there,” Shevchenko explained before noting how her opponant wanted to break away first during the face-off.

“She didn’t want to stay there a for a long time. She wanted to say first, ‘okay, I’m done’. You can see it in her,” Shevchenko added.

Such has been Shevchenko’s overall dominance in the division that it was seen as something of a setback when Taila Santos fought to a split decision with her at UFC 275. But the champion says it was a valuable learning experience for her,

“Every time from every fight. No matter dominant, not dominant I’m taking something (away) and I think that’s what every fighter should do. Once we stop improving we stop evolving and this is what I want to do, to evolve every single time,” she said.

Finding balance

Speaking in Spanish she talked about training with Rizin and Deep champions in Japan. Shevchenko spends a lot of time travelling and has lived and trained in South America and Asia as well as Europe.

She thinks that spending time in different places helps to keep her hungry and motivated and believes it has helped her to enjoy longevity in a sport where fighters have been known to fade out fast,

“It’s about balance. If we are training too much and too hard our time left is short because our body cannot do (the) things we want. It’s all about training hard when you need to train hard and recover good when you need to do it. In my spare time we travel a lot. We go to the shooting range and riding boats. This is my type of balance.”