Many fans were surprised when Sean Strickland beat Israel Adesanya last week by a unanimous decision. But you shouldn’t be much surprised when you realize that in the UFC 285, Alexa Grasso was a bigger underdog against ‘The Bullet’ Valentina Shevchenko and still managed to finish her.
Throughout the years Valentina has cemented her place in the UFC as the invincible force and the queen of the ‘Women Flyweight Division’ as no one else has managed to become the champion since she took over the crown back on Dec. 8, 2018. After her 7th title defense, Alexa Grasso finally managed to dethrone the queen and now defending her belt for the first time against the most successful fighter in the division.
The 35-year-old Kyrghiz fighter barely managed to defend her title against Taila Santos in UFC 275 and the title defense was not satisfying enough as you can claim Taila Santos was the winner. Valentina already faced a lot of good strikers and grapplers in her career, but is she really ill-equipped to handle Alexa Grasso? Time will tell the answer but we have seen such circumstances before.
When Alex Volkanovsky beat the future GOAT of the featherweight division Max Holloway back in UFC 245, it was the ‘Upset Of The Year’ of 2019. Since then they have fought three times and Alex managed to prove that it was not an upset as he is the superior fighter. Can Alexa Grasso do the same? Or she will lose her belt just like Julianna Pena lost it after a shocking win over Amanda Nunes back in UFC 269.
Preview: Can Alexa Grasso beat Valentina Shevchenko in a rematch?
Valentina is definitely one of the most dangerous and skillful fighters in the entire UFC roster right now. In the bantamweight division, she managed to survive two five-round fights against Amanda Nunes, finished Julianna Pena, and outstriked a skillful boxer like Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Simply, anyone can claim that Valentina has every tool to beat any woman fighter in the UFC.
Valentina already revealed her vision for the fight. She wants to go back to the octagon, destroy her opponent, take her belt back, and enjoy the day as it is her last day. She doesn’t have any future plans as she is fully concentrated on the fight.
Alexa Grasso is a different type of striker but very effective at the same time. Throughout her career, she has improved her ground game significantly which we can understand from the submission against Valentina.
Valentina attempted 6 takedowns on Alexa in their previous fight, out of which 4 were successful. On the contrary, Alexa tried 2 takedowns and none of them was successful. Stat-wise, Alexa has landed more strikes than Shevchenko but in terms of significant strikes, Valentina landed almost double (percentage-wise) compared to Alexa. But unfortunately, Valentina defended the submission attempt very poorly which resulted in creating the first Mexican-born women’s champion.
Valentina is a better counter-striker but Alexa is a better pressure fighter. If Grasso can remain patient and force the ex-champ to engage first, she can create more openings. The good thing for Valentina is if nothing goes in her favor, she still has a weapon that can give her a decision win, a body lock takedown. Alexa needs to create distance and make very less mistakes against such an experienced champion. Valentina’s karate stance and unique striking skills can definitely give her an edge in the striking battle as well.
Valentina Shevchenko by a split decision win.