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UFC Fight Week showcases sport's diversity

By - Jul 08, 2017

By Vaughn Johnson/for The Sporting Nation


The Ultimate Fighting Championship provides a platform for fighters of all different ethnic origins to compete through numerous styles of mixed martial arts, for fans to view across the world.

That's been the backdrop for this week's sixth annual International Fight Week in Las Vegas, which was to be headlined by a women's title bout featuring champion Amanda Nunes. 

But Nunes bowed out due to a recent illness. 
 
This week, activities included the finale of the 25th season of The Ultimate Fighter, the highly-anticipated UFC 213 and the annual UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. 
 
In a conference call last week, eight stars of both International Fight Week events spoke about preparation, conflicts, and what to expect of the three-day-bonanza. 
 
Of those eight fighters, three hail from various countries outside of the United States. Women’s bantamweight champion Nunes is one of them.
 
Nunes, notoriously known for her vicious, first-round TKO-victory over star Ronda Rousey, is from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The first ever Brazilian champion, “The Lioness” holds a bantamweight title and a 14-4-0 record, results of her power and aggressiveness in the octagon.
 
Growing up in Salvador , Nunes learned karate, boxing and Jiu-Jitsu from a young age, and was introduced to judo by her older sister, prior to making her professional debut in 2008.
 
After losing her first fight by way of submission, Nunes proceeded to win her next five fights, all by knockout.
 
At UFC 213, the Lioness was to put her title on the line against No.1 bantamweight fighter Valentina Shevchenko, for the main event of the evening. 
 
“There’s no pressure on this fight,” Nunes told reporters when asked about her mindset going into July 8th’s contest. “Fighting Miesha Tate in 200 and then against Rousey in 207, helped me get strong for this moment. It will be like my last two fights.”
 
Although Tate and Rousey were fierce competitors, UFC’s No.1 bantamweight fighter, Shevchenko, is no walk-in-the-park for the current champion. Fighting out of Lima, Peru, Shevchenko’s Muay Thai abilities have not only earned her a 14-2 record, but have also awarded her with a title shot.
 
Shevchenko was taught Taekwondo at 5 years old, as part of a family tradition. Trained by coach Pavel Fredotov, Shevchenko spent the majority of her life training and competing in all different forms of mixed martial arts, before competing professionally in 2003.
 
“Martial arts for me, isn’t about thinking 'how to promote'. It’s my life, I’ve done MMA for 20 years and have dedicated my life to it,” Shevchenko told the media. “For me it’s not a sport, it’s my lifestyle, my philosophy.”
 
“Of course I'm fighting for my countries, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and all the people around the world supporting me everyday. I have a lot of power through their energy.”
 
Before Shevchenko gets her shot at Nunes’ title, the No.1 middleweight fighter, Yoel Romero, will take on No.3 Robert Whittaker for the interim 185-pound world title in the co-main event.
 
40-yer-old Romero from Pinar del Rio, Cuba, is not only the UFC’s No. 1 contender in the middleweight division, but also a two time Olympic competitor who represented his home of Cuba in 2000.
 
With an elite background in wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Romero’s non-stop, hardworking mentality has shaped him into the fighter he is today. Winning the silver medal in the 2000 Summer Olympic wrestling freestyle competition, the “Soldier of God”, prides himself on his tireless ethic and his faith. 
 
“The facts speak for themselves,” Romero said. “This is a mixed martial arts sport, and I thank God that I am a part of the next generation of MMA.”
 
“You have to mix everything up. It’s not wrestling, striking, or grappling, its MMA. Here, you have to dance around like wolves, and do it well.”

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