UFC Star Valentina Shevchenko Blames Referee Jason Herzog For Shock Flyweight Title Fight Loss To Alexa Grasso

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For five years, Valentina Shevchenko was one of the most dominant fighters the UFC had to offer.

The longtime Flyweight champ defeated Priscilla Cachoeira on Feb. 3, 2018 to begin what would become a five-year, nine-fight tear through the division.

She won the vacant flyweight title in December of that year and never looked back.

For years, it appeared that Shevchenko was invincible as she saw off all comers. That is, until UFC 285 on March 4, 2023 when Alexa Grasso did the unthinkable.

Grasso took advantage of a Shevchenko mistake, taking her back after a missed kicked and submitting her in the fourth round to become the new queen of the division.

Valentina Shevchenko Discusses Loss To Alexa Grasso

Now, however, Shevchenko says that there may be someone else to blame for the loss.

Shevchenko appeared on The MMA Hour on Monday and denied the idea that she should not have attempted the kick.

“It’s hard to say I shouldn’t throw that spinning back kick,” Shevchenko said Monday on The MMA Hour. “It’s a very powerful kick (and) it’s a very strong kick. I’ve done so many knockouts with this spinning back kick. It’s just the situation,  it’s the fourth round and you feel not as fresh as the first round, and some actions of the referee could have provoked this tiredness that I felt during the fourth round. It’s the situation.

Definitely it’s an error, it’s a mistake, but at the same time, it’s hard to say, ‘Oh my God, this is huge, huge mistake.’ Definitely it’s huge because it’s a loss, but it’s not something that I cannot deal [with, or] will bring me so much down and I will be upset.” – via MMAFighting.com

Shevchenko Questions Referee Jason Herzog

Instead, she claims that referee Jason Herzog may have thrown her off her game.

“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.’

“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.”

Ultimately, it wasn’t Herzog who got submitted. And the standup made sense in the context of the fight. So it’s hard to understand Shevchenko’s gripe. But after reigning over the division for five years, you can imagine processing a loss must be pretty difficult.