Shevchenko camp still stuck on ‘illegal’ knees at Noche UFC

The camp of Valentina Shevchenko is angry about some knees thrown by Alexa Grasso at UFC Noche.

By: Nate Wilcox | 3 days ago
Shevchenko camp still stuck on ‘illegal’ knees at Noche UFC
IMAGO | USA TODAY by Stephen R. Sylvanie

Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 ruled a split draw

At Noche UFC, for the sixth time in the promotion’s history, a title fight was ruled a draw Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada. No one is happy with a split draw, not the fans, not the fighters. It’s a painfully frustrating way to end five rounds of compelling top-level women’s MMA.

Alexa Grasso came to defend her belt for the first time against Valentina Shevchenko, the former champ, whom she upset at UFC 285 with a fourth-round face crank submission. Despite Grasso’s victory in the first bout, many oddsmakers favored Shevchenko going in.

Judge Mike Bell who was the sole judge not to pick a winner had it 47-47 with an inexplicable and indefensible 10-8 round scored for the defending champ, Grasso. Sal D’Amato had it 48-47 for Shevchenko and Junichiro Kamijo scored it 48-47 for the defending champ.

Going into the final round, Bell and D’Amato had Rounds 1, 3, and 4 for Shevchenko, while Kamijo had the fight split at two rounds apiece. Bell’s decision to give the extra points to Grasso rendered the  bout a draw.

Here’s how the judges saw it:


Shevchenko’s camp is not happy

Valentina Shevchenko’s big sister Antonina took to Instagram to rip Mike Bell:

“I am so sorry that instead of a deserved victory, the result of the fight was a “Draw”.
Which makes me terribly angry and sad! That because of the meanness of one judge, who scored 5th round as 10-8, today you are not with the belt, as it should be!

“I can’t understand where this score came out for him. When half of the round you outstriked your opponent with the hands, and half of the round she was taking your back and sitting there and holding the position. Yes, it was a control time, but no damage. So, 10-8 in round like it??”

The controversial knees at Noche UFC

Antonina Shevchenko also accused Referee Herb Dean of allowing Grasso to land several illegal knees in the fourth round at Noche UFC. Although appears to have misremembered the point where the strikes occurred.

“You didn’t complain in 3rd round about 5 illegal knees that your opponent landed to the head! You continued the fight like a warrior! Please don’t be upset, my dear sister! Everyone who saw this fight knows that you are the winner! It was a beautiful, spectacular fight between two high level opponents, with amazing MMA technique, which can be watched over and over.”

Video of the sequence (see below) shows that Shevchenko did indeed have one hand on the ground for part of the sequence while Grasso was landing the knees. Had those strikes actually been deemed illegal, it seems very likely that Kamijo’s 4th round 10-9 score for Grasso would have been reversed, giving Shevchenko a majority decision win, even with the draw.

Unfortunately for Shevchenko’s argument, Nevada’s rules require that a “downed opponent” have both hands or one knee on the ground, not just two feet and one hand as was the case with Shevchenko.

Here’s how the Association of Boxing Commission defines a downed fighter:

“A grounded fighter is defined as: Any part of the body, other than a single hand and soles of the feet touching the fighting area floor. To be grounded, both hands palm/fist down, and/or any other body part must be touching the fighting area floor. A single knee, arm, makes the fighter grounded without having to have any other body part in touch with the fighting area floor. At this time, kicks or knees to the head will not be allowed.”

Sorry Shevchenkos, it looks like you’re out of luck on this one. Gonna have to relitigate this dispute in the Octagon and in the meantime, Grasso will keep her belt.

Update Nevada rules are slightly different but still no foul

Erik Magraken was kind enough to take to Twitter and post the applicable excerpt from the Nevada state rules:


The key paragraph states: “For the purposes of subsections 14 to 16, inclusive, an opponent shall be deemed to be a “grounded opponent” if at least one of the opponent’s hands is weight-bearing on the floor, including but not limited to, the palm, fingers, or fist or if one or more of the opponent’s body parts, other than a hand or sole of a foot, is touching the floor.”

Sorry Shevchenkos, that hand was not weight-bearing.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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