After Peruvian Shootout, Valentina Shevchenko Says She's Still Fighting Holly Holm

Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

This past Sunday night UFC bantamweight Valentina Shevchenko was having dinner at a restaurant in her adopted homeland of Peru when a small gang of men entered with guns drawn looking to rob the place. In a Facebook post sent out yesterday, Shevchenko said she was watching from a back table as the robbers “went from table to table hitting the diners and snatching their belongings without anyone being able to help them.” Before they could seriously harm anyone, however, Shevchenko’s longtime coach, Pavel Fedotov, with whom the fighter had moved to Peru from their native Kyrgyzstan in 2008, drew a pistol of his own. Fedotov killed one of the robbers and drove the rest off, but not before taking a bullet to the stomach. He is currently in the hospital but expected to survive.

Which is all to say that if Valentina Shevchenko, a decorated Muay Thai kickboxer who made her UFC debut this past December with a win over Sarah Kaufman, decided to pull out of her fight next month with Holly Holm, there’d be no one in the world who could hold it against her. Fighting Holm, the first woman to defeat Ronda Rousey, is harrowing enough without suffering a trauma or training with the knowledge that your longtime coach is laid up in a Peruvian hospital with a bullet in his belly.

But according to TMZ, Shevchenko has no plans to back out of her fight at UFC on Fox 20 in Chicago. This morning she told the site, “I will fight Holly,” and shrugged off any concerns that the physical and emotional effects of the restaurant incident might be preclusive: “"I am feeling good. No injuries. Just a few days was a very big stress to me. I’m just starting to feel better now.”

Obviously, this is good news for fans of Shevchenko, fans of high-level kickboxing matches disguised as MMA fights, and people who resent armed robbery, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed that Shevchenko’s optimism lasts. After all, the psychological effects of violent trauma are mysterious and lingering and can rear their ugly head at any time, even long after the precipitating incident has drifted into the fog of memory. According to the American Psychological Association, doctors don’t even diagnose Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder until the symptoms have persisted for at least a month. So while no one doubts Valentina Shevchenko’s heart (would you want to fight Holly Holm in her first fight back after losing her championship belt?), surely no one could fault her for backing out of an MMA fight after seeing a man killed and her beloved coach shot. The shock of brushing up against death doesn’t just go away because we’re blessed with a bit of courage.

Or as UFC President Dana White himself said last night when he was accosted by that same TMZ outside a restaurant, “When things like that happen it puts you in touch with your mortality, and sometimes people freak out a little bit, so we’ll see how it plays out.”   


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