In a clash of hot streaks, UFC 275 is set to host a fiery co-main event between reigning flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and the latest contender for her belt - Taila Santos - at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
Taila, ranked fourth in the flyweight rankings, hopes to present a fresh challenge to “Bullet” Shevchenko who has defended her title on six back-to-back occasions. The Russian can surpass the record for most title defences by a female champion (jointly-held with Ronda Rousey) with a win over Taila, who has backed her case for a championship fight with four successive wins.
“I think it’s a clash of titans, a clash of giants! We are going to give it our all. It’s a big, entertaining fight,” Taila said in an interaction with Sportstar.
After suffering a defeat on her UFC debut, Taila quickly climbed through the rungs to land a decisive shot at the title. Taila believes she has what it takes to finally quell Shevchenko’s dominance in the flyweight circuit.
“I have always worked towards this goal. This was the ultimate goal, to actually be fighting for a title. The work we did at the camp was very creative and accurate. We did a very focused work on Valentina. Everyone in the team has contributed towards building a strategy because we want the hard work to pay off. All the work that I have done till now has led me to this moment, so I feel this is not only a decisive moment for my career but for my life as well,” Taila said.
The 28-year-old last featured in a fight in November 2021 where she submitted 10th ranked Julianne Wood with a rear-naked choke. Taila reflected on her UFC journey and said: “It’s been a long journey. Yes, I started with a loss in Fortaleza, Brazil (2019). That helped me grow because I actually had to digest that.
“I used that loss to get better. I actually worked and trained for all that years. I came back stronger and put on four wins in a row and the last two fights (wins against Roxanne Modafferi, and Joanne Wood) were really good. It all goes back to using that loss, turning it into a positive and coming back stronger. Here I am, fighting to bring this belt back to Brazil.”
In her 19 victories from 20 matches in the MMA circuit, Taila has effected 10 knockout wins, three submissions and six wins by decision. However, in her five UFC bouts thus far, she has been stretched to three wins by decision.
Taila would believe her superior ground game will make up for Shevchenko’s all-round presence and striking prowess.
“I have to do everything that I have always done. I understand she is a tough athlete, a tough competitor. She is dominant but she isn’t unbeatable. I just need to grind it out for the win and I do believe I can win. All I need to do is to keep myself intense and happy to get this title that I have deserved,” Taila added.
The Brazilian says a closely-knit family has helped her in her preparations over the last few months. “In the past few months, my mom came and stayed with me. That was something that happened as soon as we got the news this fight was coming up. It’s been a blessing because I can focus on my game. Of course, she runs around a lot and it’s a load off my back. I can go with my husband (Pedro Suade, fitness expert) to train. I believe a lot in the energy of having my family next to me and it’s such positive energy,” Taila signed off.
Watch the LIVE coverage of UFC 275 on SONY TEN 2 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) and SONY TEN 4 (Tamil and Telugu) channels on 12th June 2022.