UFC newcomer Casey O’Neill won her third fight of 2021 by hammering Antonina Shevchenko, hinting afterwards that the fight referee had favored her better-known opponent.
Fearsomely aggressive O’Neill took out Shevchenko – the sister of flyweight champion Valentina – with a ground-and-pound mauling in the closing stages of the second round of their scrap at UFC Vegas 38 on Saturday, concluding with at least two gruesome unanswered shots that compelled Chris Tognoni to step in.
That earned O’Neill a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus and a third early night since February, when she knocked out Shana Dobson before submitting Lara Procopio in June.
“I was just angry at him because I got hit like five times, and he was like, ‘show me something’,” the 23-year-old said of Tognoni’s apparent reluctance to rescue Shevchenko.
“I hit her maybe 20 times and he didn’t say anything. I asked, ‘where’s her warning?'”
Some viewers agreed, with Tognoni being accused of putting Shevchenko’s safety at risk. “He tells O’Neill to fight back after she eats three punches in side control, but then when O’Neill is in mount and raining down elbows he is just sitting there chilling,” said one, claiming that the official had shown a lack of consistency.
Casey O’Neill officially landed 102 strikes in the second round against Antonina Shevchenko alone. That ground and pound was just brutal. #UFCVegas38
— Adam Martin (@MMAdamMartin) October 2, 2021
O’Neill’s victory rarely looked in doubt. “I wanted to get the TKO because it doesn’t look like they give away bonuses for submissions,” the Scotland-born Australian said. “I wanted that 50k bonus.
“She had the most name value and was the most recognized person I’ve ever fought. She was known for being tough and hard to put away, especially standing, so I wanted to go in there and prove how tough I was and that I can put away anyone they put in front of me.
“People look at her as Valentina’s sister, so they think that makes her better than maybe what she is. I do like that. I take away all of her fans off a dominant victory.
“There were still a lot of questions about me, only two fights in – everybody still looks at you as a rookie in your rookie year. I hope that now, after finishing my first year with the UFC, people look at me as a contender.”
The former Eternal MMA strawweight champion said her aim against her more experienced rival had been to “take her down and beat her up, drown her.”
“That’s my game plan with everyone,” O’Neill explained. “My pace and pressure is way too hard for anybody, especially on the ground. As soon as I got her down, I knew I could overwhelm her and finish her.”
Casey O’Neill is a problem, ya’ll. She’s one of the best prospects the flyweight division has seen in quite some time. #UFCVegas38
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 2, 2021
That’s not the last Shevchenko that Casey O’Neill will fight in the UFC #UFCVegas38
— Seán Sheehan (@SeanSheehanBA) October 2, 2021
Dedicating her win to late MMA fighter Kyle Reyes, who died at the age of 30 last month, O’Neill revealed that she could now temporarily relent on her three training sessions a day.
“My coaches will have a heart attack if I say I’m going to get in there anytime before March,” she joked. “I’m going to take the new year off and work on my skills.”