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UFC Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko has defended ring card girls after legendary fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov described them as "useless" in a recent interview.
The Ukrainian went out of her way to interact with the ring card girls at last weekend's UFC 266 event, in which she defended her belt for the sixth time against Lauren Murphy.
Her defiant message came after Khabib, who is widely regarded as the greatest fighter the UFC has ever seen alongside Amanda Nunes, called into question the purpose of the tradition.
The 33-year-old is in the process of setting up his own MMA organisation called 'Eagle Fighting Championships', which will have no ring card girls present for fight cards.
When asked about this decision, he responded: "What is their function? I have a question."
"You can show that it is the second round on the screen...I realize that is a history [with ring card girls]. History knows many mistakes. We read history to avoid mistakes of the past in the future.
"If we look in the history, it says they are useless. That is my personal opinion. Dana White maybe likes it. Maybe you do, too. But my name is not Dana. My name is Khabib.
"I feel uncomfortable [because of] my father, I am not against it. If you want, you can do it. But don't impose it on me. Do it aside. There are the designated places for it. I think we must not mix all of it. This is my opinion," he added.
The remarks, rather unsurprisingly, attracted a great deal of criticism from the combat world.
On the flip side, however, some did leap to the defence of the Russian, pointing to sports like F1 where so-called 'grid girls' are no longer employed on a race weekend.
For Shevchenko, time isn't up on the tradition which has been in place since the very inception of the UFC.
In the aftermath of her victory at UFC 266, the 25-3 mixed martial artist stated: "Beautiful women is a decoration of any event."
"And I want people to know that, and no one has the right to say they are useless, because they are in the place where they have to be.
"They were here at the beginning, and you will come to any event, and you will see beautiful woman, and you, as a man, like everyone, enjoys it, right? It's beautiful, right? This is decoration."
While Khabib's new promotion will continue to forgo ring card girls, the UFC and president White show no sign of changing course any time soon.
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