‘Bruised’ follows the dramatic story of Jackie Justice, a disgraced MMA fighter who attempts to put her life together after a devastating defeat crushes her career. The emotional sports film opens with her at a low point, with the only ray of hope being her shot at the MMA title. However, her biggest obstacle is the undefeated champion she goes up against — the MMA fighter ominously named “Lady Killer.”
The level of fighting action seen in the film is brutally authentic, and Jackie’s opponent is a truly daunting goliath who looks (and fights!) like a real-life MMA professional. So is Lady Killer a real fighter? And what do we know about Valentina Shevchenko, who essays the role of Lady Killer in ‘Bruised’? Let’s find out.
Is Lady Killer a Real MMA Fighter?
Lucia “Lady Killer” Chavez is the MMA champion that Jackie Justice (essayed by Halle Berry) goes up against in the film’s climax. Though she remains unseen for the first half, the character of Lady Killer is introduced much earlier as a daunting opponent that the protagonist has to face in order to regain her image as a viable MMA professional. Even Immaculate, who initially encourages Jackie, blurts out that she wouldn’t last 30 seconds in the ring against Lady Killer.
However, Lady Killer is not a real MMA fighter. The character is fictional and was created as part of the overall plot for ‘Bruised.’ In the film, she is described as hailing from Argentina and living and training in Philadelphia. Most notably, she has an unbeaten professional record and has won 18 matches with no losses.
When we first see Lady Killer in the film, she comes across as a belligerent, overconfident fighter who takes every opportunity to rub her opponent the wrong way, even outside the fighting ring. However, it is later revealed to be a strategy, and Lady Killer actually congratulates Jackie at the end of their fight. Let’s now look at what we know about Valentina Shevchenko, who essays Lady Killer in the film.
Who is Valentina Shevchenko?
Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko is a Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and, like her character in ‘Bruised,’ competes in the women’s Flyweight division. Whereas Lady Killer’s record in the film was 18 wins and no losses, Valentina’s real-life fight record stood at an impressive 22 wins and 3 losses at the time of the film’s Netflix release. As of November 2021, she is the current UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion, a title Valentina has held on to since 2018.
Valentina was born in Kyrgyzstan in 1988 to a Ukrainian family and began her training with taekwondo at the age of 5. Her mother, Elena Shevchenko, is herself a 3rd dan black belt in taekwondo and won multiple national level tournaments in her youth. At the age of 12, Valentina became involved in Muay Thai before making her professional debut in MMA at the age of 15 in 2003. She eventually got Peruvian citizenship in 2008 and, in 2017, announced her intention of joining the 125-pound Flyweight division.
Throughout her career, Valentina has maintained an impressive record of wins and has competed in a range of martial arts and fighting tournaments, including Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing, and mixed martial arts. Unsurprisingly, she is considered one of the best professional women fighters in the world. Her older sister, Antonina Shevchenko, is also a highly accomplished Muay Thai and mixed martial artist who competes at the same level as Valentina.
Interestingly, the MMA champion also holds a degree in film directing, which brings us to her role in ‘Bruised.’ Valentina has explained in the past how being a professional fighter is also an internal fight. She described her character, Lady Killer, as more than just a physical opponent but also a reflection of the fears that Jackie feels inside.
In preparation for filming, Valentina and actor-director Halle Berry trained for 5 hours a day, every day, for two months. Their goal was to make the on-screen fight feel as authentic as possible, and the professional martial artist even used some of her actual fighting moves during filming. In fact, Valentina revealed that during the first round of the climactic fight in ‘Bruised,’ one of the devastating combinations her character uses is the same as what she used in her most recent title defense match. Now, how’s that for authentic fight scenes!
Read More: Where Was Bruised Filmed?