Heading into her title defense at Saturday's UFC 215 against Valentina Shevchenko, one of the key questions was whether Amanda Nunes could go five, hard rounds in a championship fight. She proved she could do it and even could have went one more round, as she defeated Shevchenko by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47) to retain her UFC women's bantamweight championship. Sporting News scored the fight 48-47 for Nunes.
I knew everything Valentina was gonna bring," Nunes told Joe Rogan in her post-fight interview. "I made sure i was sharp everywhere."
Nunes (15-4) fought a very smart fight in where when she threw, she didn't throw to where she would burn through her energy. If she had done, it would have ended up like her first fight against Shevchenko back at UFC 196 in March 2016 when she wore down in the third round, which almost cost her the fight.
The champion paced herself well, and made sure if she needed more gas in the fifth round, the tank wouldn't be empty.
It ended up that she needed it.
The fight was even in the fifth round and Shevchenko had the edge halfway through. With plenty in reserve, in the final minute Nunes scored a key takedown which ended up being the deciding factor, to extend her winning streak to six wins, and a second consecutive title defense.
Shevchenko (14-3) was very disappointed in the result and couldn't figure out how the judges scored the bout for Nunes.
"I don’t understand why it didn’t go the other side," Shevchenko told Joe Rogan. "For two takedowns? She didn’t hit me not one time. She didn’t win this fight. Not one punch. Just kicks, they weren’t hard. I totally disagree with this decision. I want this fight again."
Here was our live coverage of UFC 215.
All times were Eastern.
UFC 215 results
Amanda Nunes defeats Valentina Shevchenko to retain the UFC women's bantamweight title
12:03: Time for the UFC 215 main event, as Amanda Nunes defends her UFC women's bantamweight championship against Valentina Shevchenko. Their first fight was a great one, with Nunes winning a narrow decision. Both Nunes and Shevchenko have evolved immensely since then. Something has to give. Who will walk out of Edmonton the 135-pound champion? Should be one hell of a fight.
12:21: Round 1 to Nunes (10-9). Nunes looks like a machine. She has evil intentions with everything she throws. Even her look is menacing. She's doing a good job of controlling distance, making Shevchenko really think as the challenger was reluctant to really do anything.
12:27: Round 2 to Shevchenko (10-9, 19-19). Much better round for the challenger. Shevchenko was more active, throwing more shots and making Nunes' miss which allowed her to connect with her left hand. Nunes needs to pick up the activity as Shevchenko figured out her gameplan. Whose going to make the next change in their strategy?
12:33: Round 3 to Nunes (10-9, 29-28). A very close round to score. Could really go either way. Nunes and Shevchenko were connecting on the same amount of strikes but Nunes being the aggressor and controlling the octagon were the determining factors. Never know with the judges who could see it differently. On to the championshp rounds.
12:39: Round 4 to Shevchenko (10-9, 38-38). A good bounce back for Shevchenko as Nunes could have pulled away. She's connecting on the cleaner shots which is frustrating Nunes and you could see that in Nunes trying to go for broke. We have a fight as we head into the final five minutes. Who will make the final adjustment? Side note: Shame on the fans in Edmonton booing Nunes and Shevchenko after the round. This has been a very good fight.
12:46: Round 5 to Nunes (10-9, 48-47). A very competitive fifth and final round. The first half of the round was all Shevchenko who controlled the action with her striking. Nunes kept going for a takedown. Shevchenko — for some unknown reason — attempted a headlock takedown but Nunes kept position and got her back. In the final minute of the fight, Nunes finally got her takedown and controlled the action on the mat for the rest of the fight.
7:00: Welcome to Sporting News' live coverage of UFC 215. I'm Steven Muehlhausen, MMA/Boxing contributor for SN and I will be leading the party tonight for UFC 215.
7:10: Kicking off UFC 215, on UFC Fight Pass, in lightweight action, Kajan Johnson faces Adriano Martins. This Johnson's first bout in two years and recently made some news as in May, the Canadian went on a rant against UFC apparel supplier Reebok. The rant led to a meeting with UFC officials with fighters saying they deserved more attention.
7:27: Johnson defeats Martins by KO at 0:49 of the third round. After a shaky first round, Johnson got back into a groove in the second, out-striking Martins, 21-5. In the third round, Johnson had his back against the cage, Johnson connected on a Superman punch. It made Martins wobbly and not in a good place. Martins tried for a sloppy takedown, Johnson threw a couple more punches and referee John McCarthy had seen enough. A great return for Johnson after a two-year layoff and now extends his winning streak to three.
7:37: Up next at UFC 215, in heavyweight action, Arjan Bhullar goes up against Luis Henrique. Bhullar is a highly touted prospect making his UFC debut. He's undefeated in six fights and was 2012 Olympic freestyle wrestler for Canada. Henrique's split four fights inside the octagon.
7:58: Bhullar defeats Henrique by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). A decent performance from Bhullar. He had a chance to put Henrique away in the second round after connecting on a vicious right hand. The fight was his to finish but for one reason or another, he decided to conserve his energy. Bhullar's gas tank emptied in the third round. He looked slow, punches weren't as crisp but did enough in the first two rounds to secure the victory. A long way to go for Bhullar but someone to definitely watch out for in the heavyweight division.
8:00: If you turned on Fox Sports 1 to watch the remaining preliminary fights, you are out of luck as golf is on as the 46th Walker Cup is on, so tune in to Fox Sports 2 or go to the Fox Sports Go app. Feel bad for the UFC here. Don't get how FS 1 continues to put different programming on the channel with a UFC show which will draw better ratings than amateur golf. Instead, it will be on a channel which has low viewership and not on all cable/satelitte packages.
8:05: Kicking the FS 1 prelims, in lightweight action, Mitch Clarke fights Alex White.
8:20: White blows out Clarke by TKO at 4:36 of the first round. A great performance by White, who controlled the fight throughout on the feet. "The Spartan" runs his record to 12-3 and 3-3 in the UFC. Clarke announced after the fight he will be retiring, effective immediately.
"It was an absolute pleasure to have my last career fight in Edmonton," Clarke told Daniel Cormier after the fight.
8:35: Coming up at UFC 215, in featherweight action, Gavin Tucker fights Rick Glenn. Tucker is a up-and-coming prospect whose undefeated in 10 fights including his UFC debut against Sam Sicilia at UFC Fight Night 105 in February. Glenn, a former World Series of Fighting featherweight champion is 1-1 since moving to the UFC in 2016. This should be a showcase fight for Tucker on a big-time stage. Let's see if he could deliver.
9:04: Glenn batters Tucker to win a lopsided decision (30-24, 30-25, 29-27). Before we even talk about the fight, 29-27? What? How does one score a fight like that in where Glenn battered Tucker for 15 minutes? What was the judge looking at? Horrible judging and refereeing as that fight should have been stopped halfway through the third round. A great performance by Glenn in beating the highly touted Tucker. His best so far in the UFC. You can see the improvements in his game since moving over to the Team Alpha Male gym led by UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber.
9:12: Up next at UFC 215, in women's bantamweight action, No. 15 ranked Ashlee Evans-Smith goes up against Sarah Moras. Evans-Smith's won two of her last three fights. Moras is 1-1- in her UFC run. She hasn't fought in over two years and had to start a Go Fund Me to help pay for training expenses. Can Moras do what Kajan Johnson did to kickoff UFC 215?
9:20: Moras submits Evans-Smith by armbar at 2:51 of the first round. A beautiful submission by Moras. She got the fight to the ground and as soon as that happened, the Moras' focus was to clap on the armbar. Scrambling for a few moments, Moras locked in the armbar, got it deep and appeared to either break or dislocated Evans-Smith's elbow. Beautiful performance by Moras and a good way to back on track with a win her home country.
9:35: In the featured preliminary bout at UFC 215, in women's bantamweight action, former title challenger and No. 6 ranked Sara McMann battles No. 13 Ketlen Vieira. Since back-to-back losses to Miesha Tate and Nunes, McMann's won three consecutive fights. Vieira's unbeaten in eight career fights including back-to-back UFC wins. By the looks of it, this is designed to be a showcase fight for Vieira.
9:52: Vieira pulls off the upset and submits McMann by arm triangle at 4:16 of the second round. McMann dominated the entire first round until the final moments when Vieira secured a deep heel hook but the horn to end the round had sounded. The second round was going the same way until Vieira took down the Olympic wrestler. Vieira set it up perfectly, crawling up the body, transitioned to the right side of McMann's body to lock in the choke and McMann tapped out.
9:57: The pay-per-view UFC 215 main card begins at the top of the hour.
Stephens puts on the fight of his life defeating Melendez
10:11: Kicking off the main card of UFC 215, in featherweight action, No. 6 ranked Jeremy Stephens battles former UFC lightweight title challenger and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. Stephens' lost back-to-back fights. Melendez hasn't fought since last July after failing a drug test. It is his first fight at featherweight since 2005. This has slugfest written all over it. Let's rock-and-roll. Great way to start UFC 215.
10:23: Round 1 for Stephens (10-9). Stephens came out intent on throwing leg kicks which effected Melendez early and often to where it got to the point where Melendez started going down to the ground. Melendez needed to move forward but continued to fight on the outside and let Stephens continue throw it at will. Melendez needs to switch stances and press forward the entire round.
10:31: Round 2 for Stephens (10-9, 20-18). Much more of the same in the second round from Stephens. While Melendez did listen to his corner and switched stances, any time Melendez went back to orthodox, Stephens went right back to leg kicks. Stephens did look confused when Melendez went southpaw but the former Strikeforce champ doesn't enough power from that side. Melendez needs to stay orthodox, trudge forward and go to work and not take a back seat.
10:38: Round 3 to Stephens (10-9, 30-27). The same of what we saw in the first two rounds. Stephens has to be commended for sticking to the gameplan when he could have gotten reckless and went for broke. But, he fought smart and that should bring home the victory. Off the to scorecards.
10:41: Stephens wins by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25). What a performance by Stephens. He battered Melendez from pillar-to-post and the leg kicks were the reason why. Give Melendez credit for showing a lot of heart but why he hasn't learned to adapt and not be so susceptible to leg kicks is beyond me. This is the biggest win and the best performance in Stephens' 10-year UFC career. For Melendez, that is now four losses in a row. Does the UFC release him? Does he retire? If one is to guess, it will be the former as the UFC doesn't keep fighters who lose that many fights consecutively.
Latifi uses his wrestling to dethrone Pedro
9:49: Up next at UFC 215, in light heavyweight action, No. 10 ranked Ilir Latifi goes up against No. 13 Tyson Pedro. This is Latifi's first bout in a little over a year when he got knocked out by Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 93. Pedro is undefeated in six fights and never has gone past the first round.
11:00: Round 1 to Latifi (10-9). Great pressure from Latifi throughout, securing takedowns and his left hand to make Pedro work he's never had to do in his short career. Now Pedro enters the second round for the first time.
11:05: Round 2 to Latifi (10-9, 20-18). Latifi controlled the entire with his wrestling. He would set it up by conencting with his left hand and shoot right in to score the takedown. Pedro needs to go for broke.
11:09: Round 3 to Latifi (10-9, 30-27). A shaky start to the finald round for Latifi. Pedro was throwing hard kicks to legs and body. Tired of getting kicked to death, Latifi went back to his bread-and-butter, his wrestling. Pedro had no answer for the takedowns and that should bring it home for Latifi.
11:12: Latifi wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). More weird judging. Where did Pedro win a round? Was hard to see where Pedro controlled the majority of a round. Dominant performance by Latifi. Name of the game for Latifi was his wrestling. He knew Pedro's wrestling wasn't up to par. He captilaized on it and it notched him his fourth victory in five fights. Be interesting to see where Latifi goes from here and who he gets matched up against.
11:17: Nice to see the UFC air a package for next week's UFC Fight Night in Pittsburgh featuring Luke Rockhold and David Branch. Hopefully the UFC does it more often on their PPV shows.
Cejudo blasts Reis
11:20: Coming up next at UFC 215, in flyweight action, in a battle of former flyweight title challengers, No. 2 ranked Henry Cejudo battles Wilson Reis. Cejudo and Reis are coming losses to Joseph Benevidez and Demetrious Johnson respectively. This is a big fight for both guys. They have something to prove. Another title opportunity at 125 pounds isn't too far away and a dominant performance here could vault them to that opportunity.
11:33: Round 1 to Cejudo (10-9). That was the best round in Cejudo's UFC career. He came in a Conor McGregor-like stance, came out kicking and throwing punches with heavy intentions. He used his punches to set-up his wrestling and took Reis down. Would be shocked if Cejudo doesn't finish Reis in this round.
11:36: Cejudo wins by knockout 0:25 of the second round. This is the Cejudo fans have been wanting to see. A 2008 Olympic gold medalist in wrestling finally showed his full potential. He was just known as a wrestler and now he's added striking to his arsenal. You saw it in the first round and then Cejudo wasted no time landing a sharp right hand which put Reis away. Cejudo was talking with Johnson after the fight but when it came time to sell a rematch in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Cejudo failed miserably. He could have stepped in line and put Ray Borg to the wasteside but he blew. When will fighters learn you have to sell yourself even just a little bit. Get people talking about you. A great performance ruined by a failure with the world watching on the microphone.
Rafael dos Anjos makes quick work of Neil Magny
11:41: In the co-main event of UFC 215, in welterweight action, No. 6 ranked Neil Magny goes up against former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Magny's won 11 of his last 13 fights including his most recent win over former 170-pound champion Johny Hendricks. dos Anjos made his welterweight debut back in June, defeating Tarec Saffiedine by unanimous decision. A win by either guy here vaults them into the top five and into a major fight next.
11:57: dos Anjos wins by submission via arm triangle choke at 3:43 of the first round. That was about as easy as a fight can get. All it took was a leg kick to get Magny down to the mat. Then it was all she wrote. It was only a matter of time as dos Anjos landed vicious ground-and-pound punches then a smooth tranisiton to side control and the former 155-pound champion secured the choke. Magny did everything he could to get out of it but had no choice but to tap. dos Anjos did what Cejudo failed to do and say he wants the belt, currently held by Tyron Woodley. While he won't get it next, one more win would seal the deal.