Valentina Shevchenko still wants an explanation from Mike Bell.
On Saturday, Shevchenko rematched Alexa Grasso for the flyweight title in the main event at Noche UFC, and unfortunately for “Bullet,” she fell just short of reclaiming the title; the two women fought to a split draw. Aside from an unsatisfying ending to the fight, the result was also highly controversial as judge Mike Bell gave Grasso a 10-8 fifth round, resulting in his tied scorecard and the draw. In her post-fight press conference, Shevchenko was obviously unhappy with the decision, and a few days later, nothing has changed her mind.
“Emotions. As I said on Saturday, it’s kind of double. For one part, I’m very proud of what I did inside of the octagon,” Shevchenko said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I do know exactly three rounds, for certain, from the fight were my rounds. I won those rounds. From the other side, a few things in the side were completely unfair. Definitely the scorecard in the final round, 10-8. Mike Bell, he did some inexplicable things and I think the whole world would love to hear an explanation. But from the other side, it’s not me. He is going to live with that mistake forever.”
Bell’s scorecard has been heavily criticized, in part, because while Grasso finished the fifth round very strong, Shevchenko won most of the round, lancing Grasso with her jab until getting her back taken in the final 90 seconds of the bout. Per the Unified Rules of MMA, a 10-8 scorecard requires at least two of the three factors of dominance, duration, and damage. Shevchenko argues that the fifth round objectively did not meet these standards. Instead, she offers a different explanation of what happened.
“There is nothing clear in that, the reason it was a 10-8,” Shevchenko said. “No one is speaking about it, and my guess is because there is no explanation for that. It’s kind of like he had me on his scorecard winning three rounds, and it looks like in the final round he was like, ‘Oh my God, I cannot let this happen! I’ll just switch my mind and give a 10-8.’
“In our sport, 10-8 is when a fighter cannot do anything. He just goes in the round, running around from the opponent and trying to survive. This is 10-8. But you could see in the fifth round, it’s not even close to a 10-8. In the standup, all the hits that I was hitting were hard hits, and I felt that a few of them, they landed very hard to her and she was kind of shook up. I felt it. It’s completely not a 10-8. Control doesn’t mean 10-8. Control, is nothing. Damage, there wasn’t any damage like that in the final round.”
Shevchenko did acknowledge that the fight was close, saying that even though she believes she won, she can understand a scorecard for Grasso.
But the manner of scoring is what she finds fault with.
“It’s kind of like, split decision in that fight is something that could happen,” Shevchenko said. “I think it should be three rounds to my side, two rounds to her side, all three scorecards. But when the fight is so intense, so technical, so much nonstop action, you can see anything like judges giving victory to one side or another. But not 10-8.”
Ultimately though, the score stands and Shevchenko’s tools for redress are limited. The Nevada State Athletic Commission appears disinclined to speak on the matter and appeals like this rarely yield results. Shevchenko didn’t rule out a possible appeal, but said she would wait and consider her options after rewatching the fight. In the meantime, though, she does take solace in knowing in her heart that she was the real winner on Saturday.
“Yes, I am the one who is affected,” Shevchenko said. “I am — she is as well — the one who got a draw from this fight. It’s not a loss, but unfortunately, the rules of fighting work the same. If it’s a draw, the belt stays with the person who had it. But from the other side, I don’t think it’s going to affect my legacy, because the truth is here.
“The whole world, 20,000 people who were watching the fight live in T-Mobile Arena, they saw the result. They know the truth and the truth is here. It doesn’t matter what people try to make up after that, how they score or what they do, the truth is there… But the truth is here, that’s why it’s not affecting my legacy.”
But while Shevchenko’s legacy might not be in trouble, Bell could be in a very different situation. Already under intense backlash from fans over the scorecards, Shevchenko believes that, moving forward, Bell may face an increasing amount of scrutiny from fighters.
“I fought all my heart out. I secured a three-round victory, and this is not my fault of the mistake of a judge,” Shevchenko said. “And it is not [me] who is going to live with that decision. He will forever be remembered with that mistake. The next time he’s going to judge — I don’t know if he’s going to judge another fight — he will be looking at the fighter’s corners and their teams with big, big, big eyes of [they don’t] believe in that person, in his professionalism.”
While Shevchenko is pretty clearly unhappy with Bell and still wants an explanation about what happened Saturday, she did at least appreciate one thing about his 10-8 scorecard.
“I want to hear it from him, to say otherwise,” Shevchenko concluded. “I want to hear it from him to say that was not the reason why. I want to hear from him why it was three rounds, me winning, and then suddenly decide, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to let it happen. 10-8.’
“It’s good it was not 10-7. [Laughs.]”