CHICAGO — Valentina Shevchenko stunned Holly Holm on Saturday night at UFC Chicago, unanimously outpointing the former UFC champion.
Fighting for the first fight since losing the belt to Miesha Tate at UFC 196, Holm had losing scores of 49-46 from the judges.
Her stunning knockout of then-champ Ronda Rousey in Australia at UFC 193 catapulted Holm (10-2) into the spotlight of mixed martial arts, but she followed with the back-to-back losses.
Shevchenko (13-2) put herself in the mix to contend for the women’s bantamweight title at 135 pounds that is held by Amanda Nunes, who she lost to in March at UFC 196.
Holm knocked Shevchenko to the mat with a quick hook early in the first round as Shevchenko quickly got back to her feet. Shevchenko had a takedown late in the round.
In the third round, after Shevchenko got in a few jabs, Shevchenko caught Holm’s leg on a kick attempt and took her down. Shevchenko had another takedown and kept Holm (10-2) on the mat for the rest of the round as she landed punches.
Shevchenko may get another shot at Nunes, who dismantled Tate for the belt at UFC 200.
In the co-main event, Edson Barboza won in a unanimous decision over Gilbert Melendez in a lightweight fight.
Barboza (18-4) began to take control late in the second round. Melendez attempted a kick, but Barboza caught Melendez’s leg and took him down. Barboza had Melendez (22-6) pinned to ground as he landed a series of punches, but Melendez was saved by the bell.
Barboza scored with the judges on a number of kicks to Melendez’s left knee in the third round as the judges scored the fight 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 in favor of Barboza.
Barboza backed up his last win against former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis
Melendez, who hasn’t fought since June 13, 2015, losing a split decision to now-champ Eddie Alvarez, has lost his last three fights.
Felice Herrig (11-6), born in Chicago, submited Kailin Curran (4-3) in the strawweight division with a rear-naked choke at 1:59 in the first round. Herrig, bounced back from an April 2015 loss to Paige VanZant.
A welterweight fight between Hector Urbna and George Sullivan was scrapped after Sullivan voluntarily disclosed information to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. According to a UFC release, out of caution, Sullivan was removed from the fight as the USADA conducts an investigation into the matter.
Earlier in the card, Eddie Wineland (22-11-1) dropped Frakie Saenz (11-4) in a bantamweight fight with a right counter punch in the third round to win by technical knockout.
Darren Elkins (22-5), fighting 50 miles from his hometown of Portage, Indiana, overcame an illegal knee from Godofredo Pepey (13-4) to win in unanimous decision at 145 pounds.
In one of the more exciting fights of the card, Jason Knight won in a split decision over Jim Alers in a bloody featherweight fight that featured three rounds of the two exchanging takedowns and blows to the face. Knight (17-2), who was verbally taunting Alers during the fight, withstood a right uppercut from Alers with 45 seconds left in the third round to go on his way to win his first career UFC fight. The decision was not popular with some in the crowd as boos rang out as ring announcer Bruce Buffer read the results.