Alexa Grasso Upsets Valentina For UFC Flyweight Belt
Alexa Grasso Shocks The World By Defeating Valentina To Win UFC Flyweight Title
On the night when Jon Jones cemented his legacy as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, Alexa Grasso emerged as UFC 285’s biggest winner. Grasso shocked the MMA world in the night’s co-main event, submitting long-time UFC Women’s Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko via rear-naked choke in the fourth round.
Grasso rode a four-fight win streak going into her first title shot as part of the current Mexican wave pervading the UFC. Grasso has a sponsorship with crypto sports betting platform Stake, joining fellow UFC fighters Israel Adesanya, Glover Teixeira, and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou as ambassadors of the platform.
This article delves into the details of Grasso’s impressive performance and how she dethroned one of the most dominant UFC champions ever.
Going up against dominance
Riding a nine-fight win streak coming into UFC 285, Shevchenko was a –500 favorite against the +450 Grasso. It was a stretch of championship dominance few have come close to, much less equaled. So, while Grasso had the best boxing of The Bullet’s previous opponents, few gave her a realistic shot against Shevchenko.
Grasso didn’t take long to show she belonged in the cage with the champion, matching Shevchenko’s distance management and speed in a way previous challengers could not. Within the first two minutes, Grasso had the champion on her backfoot as she controlled the center of the octagon while avoiding most of Shevchenko’s counters.
And with just under two minutes left, the Mexican landed a massive straight left followed by a right hook that stunned Shevchenko. While it was a close opening round, Grasso landed the most significant shots and was the first fighter in recent memory to connect on Valentina like that. As Jon Anik put it, Shevchenko had been knifing through opponents without being challenged before this fight. Grasso changed all that in the first round.
Sporting a bloody nose, Valentina immediately went to a double leg less than 30 seconds into the round. Though it was a perfectly-timed takedown, it also showed that Grasso had left her mark in the standup. Most experts thought Shevchenko would have the advantage on the ground, but Grasso eventually fought back to her feet while escaping damage and even landing a left on the exit.
Valentina landed another takedown with 40 seconds left, securing the round in what was now a very interesting fight.
Despite spending over half the previous round on her back, Grasso opened the third pressuring Shevchenko. After some good exchanges on the feet, Valentina landed another perfectly timed takedown, taking the fight where she appeared to have a distinct advantage. And though Grasso once again avoided significant damage on the ground, the champion’s ground control looked to have her up two rounds to one going into the fourth.
Grasso stuffed an early takedown attempt as she pressured Shevchenko in the opening minute. Despite Grasso’s pressure, Valentina appeared to have a slight edge with over a minute left in the round. That was until she missed a spinning back kick, ala Chris Weidman.
Grasso masterfully took Shevchenko’s back and immediately sank a choke that quickly went under the champion’s chin. Seconds later, the UFC Women’s Flyweight division had a new queen after Valentina tapped with 26 seconds left in the round. Grasso was the first to beat Shevchenko since Amanda Nunes in 2017 and the first Mexican-born woman to hold a UFC belt.
Shevchenko demands an immediate rematch
It was a truly stunning result for a fighter primarily considered a striker. Apart from her exquisite boxing, Grasso’s southpaw stance appeared to confound Shevchenko and took away the former champion’s devastating body kicks. Without the striking advantage she had enjoyed in virtually every other fight, Valentina’s takedowns increasingly became predictable as the fight went on. On top of that, Grasso’s unrelenting pressure eventually forced a costly mistake from Shevchenko.
Immediately after the fight, Shevchenko demanded an immediate rematch. While it remains to be seen when that will happen, Grasso became the latest fighter to deliver a stunning upset to a reigning champion. She follows UFC Welterweight Champion Leon Edwards and Middleweight Champion Alex Pereira, who were both on the brink of losing before pulling off an upset in the fifth round.
Alexa Grasso’s victory over Valentina Shevchenko is a true underdog story that will be brought up every time an underdog faces a dominant champion. Her incredible performance embodies what makes mixed martial arts such an exciting sport, where absolutely anything can happen at any given time.
Grasso has breathed new life into the UFC Women’s Flyweight division, and if she manages an encore in the rematch, she stands a good chance of replicating Shevchenko’s dominant run.