Peña vs. Shevchenko to top the card in battle of contenders on Jan. 28
The two fighters most closely chasing Ronda Rousey and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will meet in Denver when Julianna Peña matches up against Valentina Shevchenko in the main event at “UFC on Fox” at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 28, organizers said Tuesday.
The nationally televised card will mark the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to Denver for the first time since 2012, when Colorado native Benson Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar by a controversial split decision at UFC 150.
The Peña-Shevchenko main event will be the first major-card women’s matchup in Denver.
Shevchenko (13-2), a Kyrgyzstani Muay Thai specialist who now fights out of Lima, Peru, rocketed up the bantamweight rankings in July when she defeated Albuquerque’s Holly Holm by five-round unanimous decision in Chicago.
It was a rebound victory for Shevchenko, after she lost to Nunes, the current champion in the division, by unanimous decision at UFC 196 in Las Vegas. It is Shevchenko’s only UFC loss.
Shevchenko is now the No. 2-ranked bantamweight, behind the top contender, Rousey. Denver’s Cat Zingano is No. 6.
Peña (9-2) is ranked No. 3 after her unanimous decision victory over Zingano at UFC 200 in Las Vegas in July. Peña, who lost the first round to Zingano, had to rally over the final two.
“I’m just hitting my prime,” Peña said after the victory. “Try me right now, bring it on, the world is mine. Everybody who’s been put in front of me I’ve beaten. So I don’t see anything else but the title.”
Peña, who fights out of Spokane, Wash., has won four fights in a row since joining UFC.
Also on the card: Denver’s Nate Marquardt, a godfather of Colorado MMA, will take on Milwaukee’s Sam Alvey in a middleweight bout.
It will be Marquardt’s first UFC fight in his hometown.
The UFC will announce more fights as they’re stitched together in the coming weeks.