Nunes re­tains UFC crown

Dos An­jos, Stephens also pick up wins on the main card

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Sports -

Brazil­ian brawler Amanda Nunes played a tac­ti­cal game Satur­day night to de­feat chal­lenger Valentina Shevchenko by split de­ci­sion and re­tain her ban­tamweight ti­tle, at UFC 215 at Rogers Place.

“I wanted to show the world I’m here to stay,’’ Nunes later told re­porters.

The judges scored it 47-48, 48-47, 48-47 to run Nunes’ record to 15-4.

It was a care­ful fight with many sin­gle shots and few ex­tended skir­mishes un­til Nunes took Shevchenko to the can­vas in the fifth round.

The fans of­ten booed and chanted “Fight, fight fight!’’

Nunes, nick­named the Lioness, raised her arms in the air as the de­ci­sion was an­nounced while many of the fans booed the ver­dict.

She later told re­porters her strat­egy was to go the full five rounds and wear Shevchenko down and then strike — and prove to de­trac­tors who said Nunes was an early-round knock­out artist and would fade in the long game.

“I know the crowd wants to see a knock­out ... but tonight this fight was for me, to go five rounds and prove I’m the best. I’m here to stay. I’m here for a rea­son,’’ she said.

Shevchenko, the Kyr­gyzs­tan fighter nick­named “Bul­let,” is now 14-3.

The 29-year-old walked to the side of the oc­tagon, shak­ing her head in dis­be­lief.

“I don’t agree with the de­ci­sion at all,’’ Shevchenko said af­ter­ward. “I won this fight.

“My punches were more ef­fec­tive than her punches.’’

It was the sec­ond time Nunes had beaten Shevchenko in 18 months. Nunes, 29, took a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion over Shevchenko at UFC 196 in March 2016.

Main card

In a bout with a po­ten­tial ti­tle shot on the line, for­mer light­weight cham­pion Rafael Dos An­jos sub­mit­ted six­thranked Neil Magny with an arm-tri­an­gle choke at 3:43 of the first round of their wel­ter­weight bat­tle. The 10th-ranked Bra- zil­ian is now 27-9-0.

Gil­bert Me­len­dez, drop­ping down to make his de­but in feath­er­weight, was cheered as he stag­gered up re­peat­edly from the can­vas while tak­ing a hel­la­cious flurry of kicks and punches from eighth-ranked Jeremy Stephens. Stephens won by unan­i­mous de­ci­sion.

There were five Cana­di­ans on the un­der­card.

The high­light was Sarah Mo­ras of Kelowna, B.C. Pinned to the can­vas by Cal­i­for­nia’s Ash­lee Evans-smith in the open­ing sec­onds of their ban­tamweight fight, she worked her­self into po­si­tion to sub­mit Evans-smith with an arm­bar at 2:51.

The lone heavy­weight con­test of the night saw Ar­jan Bhullar of Rich­mond, B.C., win his UFC de­but with a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion over Luis Hen­rique.

Van­cou­ver’s Ka­jan (Ra­gin’) John­son knocked out Adri­ano Mar­tins of Brazil 49 sec­onds into the third round of their light­weight bout.

Ed­mon­ton’s Mitch Clarke was TKO’D in the sec­ond round by Mis­souri’s Alex White in a light­weight clash. Af­ter­ward, an emo­tional Clarke, 31, an­nounced he was hang­ing up the gloves.

In a feath­er­weight fight, New­found­land’s Gavin Tucker was mer­ci­lessly grounded and pounded by Iowa’s Rick (Gla­di­a­tor) Glenn en route to los­ing a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion.

de­ci­sion at UFC 215 on Satur­day.

Kevin Tuong/for metro

Women’s ban­tamweight cham­pion amanda nunes de­feated top con­tender Valentina shevchenko via a ra­zor-thin split

Kevin Tuong/for metro

Rafael dos an­jos drops an el­bow on neil magny at UFC 215.

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