Taila Santos came close to pulling off a major upset at UFC 275, giving Valentina Shevchenko her toughest-ever fight at flyweight.
Back in her native Brazil, Santos said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocacao Franca she believes she did enough to win at least three rounds against the 125-pound champion this past Saturday in Singapore.
Santos re-watched the fight once after being cleared from the hospital, where doctors’ checked her fractured orbital bone courtesy of an unintentional clash of heads, and she felt the same way she did seconds after the bout was over.
” I think she was [I won] until the third round when my eye was not yet fully healed, but still got her down in the fourth.” Santos stated. I was able to take her down four times, even though she fell in the final round. The [three rounds] first round was mine. I haven’t sat down to analyze the fight yet; I have to re-watch it. However, I managed to control her for a while and take her down in the fourth. She quickly got up again.
“I was waiting for [Bruce Buffer to announce] my name. Deep down, I expected to hear “Taila Santos”, but that wasn’t the name he used. However, I held my head high. I won’t say that I shouldn’t have won. But what really matters is my performance. I’ll get better, train more, and I’m sure this is not my only opportunity [for the belt]. My age is young, and I know I will show more .”
Santos feels she has to go back and analyze the 25 minutes of action to fix her mistakes against Shevchenko, but ultimately is happy with her performance. Santos stated that she still had more to offer, but her eye injury has “definitely” affected the performance .”
” When I looked at the ground [in between rounds],, I saw everything as normal. Santos stated that when the round began, she couldn’t see any of it. “I freaked out, ‘What am I going to do? What are you going to do? She could also be a target if she can’t see. It scared me. I had to find a way. I didn’t know where to hit, so it was quite complicated. I would never quit, but I was scared.”
In the end Santos saw the flyweight queen differently after going five rounds against Shevchenko, losing in a close split decision.
“Everybody sees her as this monster, the boogeyman,” Santos said. “After I fought her, I could see she’s not all that, you know? Although she’s extremely intelligent and tough, it is not unusual for her to be so. I felt very confident. I didn’t feel any supernatural power. It was the way that people spoke about her, and I felt no supernatural power. I was expecting [more from her]. It was easy to [take her down] and get her back. I expected it to be tougher.”
Santos will undergo surgery in the coming weeks to fix her orbital bone fracture and then rehab before booking her next bout. It’s still unclear when Shevchenko will be cleared to return to action, and Santos said “it would be great” if the promotion decides to run it back.
“It’s not worth fighting another [in a tune-up fight] fighter if you’ve already fought them,” Santos stated. I had never fought 5 rounds in my life before so I went straight to the trial by fire. It was a 5-round bout with the champion, who is the greatest in the world. I’m tested already.”