Antonina Shevchenko Embraces the Pressure That Comes Along with Her Last Name
Antonina Shevchenko is a promising mixed martial arts prospect with a UFC career that will start on Friday night but she rarely escapes questions that don’t eventually connect back to her sister.
Shevchenko’s sibling Valentina is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in women’s MMA not to mention that she’s about to compete for the UFC women’s flyweight title eight days after Antonina makes her Octagon debut.
While both sisters are forging their own futures in the sport, Antonina has no problem that she’s often times compared to Valentina or that their names are routinely intertwined when leading up to fights.
In fact, Antonina says that she embraces the expectations that she’s supposed to be on the same level as her sister because she holds herself to that same kind of criticism when she’s preparing for her fights.
“It’s totally right. People expect me because of my surname, because of Valentina, because of her fights in the UFC, they expect me to do the same,” Shevchenko said ahead of her UFC debut. “Great fight, good technique, everything. Like it or don’t like it, it is what it is. You can’t avoid it. You can’t expect it or say no I’m a different fighter.
“Me and Valentina are sisters and she’s had her UFC career and people are comparing or expecting or have their thoughts about this. It’s OK. It’s normal. There’s some kind of pressure because of this but I like this.”
It’s not all that uncommon for fighters coming from the same trainer or similar lineage in martial arts to have those kinds of expectations heaped on their shoulders when compared to a teammate or training partner.
In Shevchenko’s case, she’s not just training alongside the fighter she’s being compared to constantly — they are sisters, which means they’re going to be together before and after fighting is finished for each of them.
In reality, it’s completely unfair to compare Antonina to Valentina or vice versa because they will each have their own careers and what one of them does in the cage should have no real impact on the other one.
That said, Antonina says it doesn’t really bother her and if anything being compared to her sister just motivates her to train and prepare that much harder to live up to those expectations.
“It motivates me to train harder,” Shevchenko explained. “To understand that people expect from me something good. Of course, I’m training for this. I’m preparing for this. I was preparing in this training camp, every week thinking that I have to be good and I have to show the best of me because it’s my debut in this organization and everything.
“This is motivation.”
Shevchenko will look to forge her own path in the UFC starting on Friday night when she faces Ji Yeon Kim at ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 28 Finale from Las Vegas.