The consensus among MMA pundits is that women's bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes and flyweight titlist Valentina Shevchenko are the two best female fighters in the world.
Even though the world feels that way about Shevchenko, she doesn't want to hear any of it. She's only worried about stepping into the octagon and coming out on top.
"My target and my goal are to train hard for every fight to make each fight a good one and to win every one of them," Shevchenko told Sporting News. "That is what I want from me. I’m not focusing on who is the best in the world. I think it’s a job for you guys in the media and the fans. For me, I decided in my career that I’m going to focus on each fight because I have to keep my focus on my performances."
Shevchenko is 17-3 with 12 of her wins coming by stoppage. Two of her defeats came against Nunes in bouts that could have gone either way. The other loss was at the hands of Liz Carmouche, and they meet Saturday at UFC Uruguay with Shevchenko's belt on the line.
The champion and challenger first squared off under a fly by the night promotion called C3 in Concho, Oklahoma, in September 2010. Carmouche, who has said in the lead-up that she was supposed to face Valentina's sister Antonia, won via second-round TKO when the fight got stopped by the fight doctor after Shevchenko had a cut over her eye.
No video of the first fight exists. It's one that never leaves Shevchenko's mind to this day and uses it as motivation every time she gets ready to go into combat.
"I remember the fight," Shevchenko said. "I was winning the round, and I was coming out of the standup, and then I took her down. I was looking at her, and she was laying on the ground. She threw her heel in the air towards my head. I didn’t feel it and didn’t hurt at all. We continued to fight and grappled on the ground.
"When we were on the mat, I saw blood, but I didn’t realize it was mine. But after we grappled for about another minute, the round ended and the doctors came inside the cage. I understood that something happened to my eye. There was a cut on my eyebrow. They decided to stop the fight. I was against it because I felt I could continue. Blood can be stopped from cuts, and the fight does continue. But they decided to stop the fight. There was nothing I can do at that point to change their minds.
"I take everything I’ve learned today from that fight. I became a better fighter because I lost to her. I think about that loss before every fight. And we have history heading into this fight on Saturday. It’s going to be a completely different fight."
Since the 31-year-old entered the UFC in December 2015, Shevchenko's gone 6-2. The way she's won each of those fights makes fans think there isn't much to improve on considering her extensive martial arts background where she is a 17-time Muay Thai and K1 world champion. Combined with her MMA record, Shevchenko is a staggering 71-5.
With those credentials, what else is there for Shevchenko to improve on?
"Continuing doing what I’m doing," Shevchenko said. "Every fight gives me more and more experience and knowledge to never stop in my desire to be better because in all my training I’ve learned that MMA is an amazing sport and you can always find new techniques, and you have to learn to adopt them to become No. 1."
Shevchenko has noticed the improvement in Carmouche from almost nine years ago and is impressed with her performances. To Shevchenko, the progress of her opponent doesn't matter as long as she improves from her last fight and retains the gold.
"I know it's going to be a good fight," Shevchenko said. "I’m training for every situation that can happen to you. She’s going to do everything she can. But my goal in my mind is on the victory, and I’m going to do more than she is."