This past Saturday night at UFC 285, the almost unthinkable happened. Former flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko (23-4) was dethroned in a massive upset by Alexa Grasso (16-3). Grasso didn’t just win the fight, she submitted Shevchenko in the fourth round.
In the first round, Grasso immediately got the attention of the former champion with some stinging straight shots. The former champ had her moments as well, but universally the first round was going to Alexa Grasso.
Starting in the second round, Shevchenko changed her strategy. While she still engaged on the feet, she began targeting takedowns. She was very effective with her wrestling and easily took the next couple of rounds with takedowns.
Grasso was game and wasn’t going away. In the fourth round, both were having their moments, but you had the feeling that the round was trending towards Shevchenko. Then, with just about a minute left in the round, Shevchenko through a very poorly timed spinning back kick to the body.
Upon her spinning, Grasso immediately hopped on her back with both hooks in. You could tell that Shevchenko was completely taken by surprise. Grasso immediately started working the choke and got a very tight squeeze in. The choke wasn’t even fully under the chin, but the pressure alone forced a tap from the former P4P queen.
The future after UFC 285?
In this fight, Shevchenko was searching for her eighth title defense. No disrespect to Nicco Montano, but Shevchenko was the only true champion that the flyweight division had ever seen. Her reign of dominance was along the lines of Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, and GSP.
Now, she has fallen and in devastating fashion. Shevchenko tweeted her frustrations this morning especially considering the fact that she thought she was dominating the fight before that crucial mistake. To her credit, had Grasso not taken her back and secured the submission, she was likely going to be up 3-1.
The UFC will of course grant Shevchenko an immediate rematch just like they’ve done with every truly dominant women’s champion. The big question is, will Shevchenko be more like Amanda Nunes or will she be more like Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Joanna had been the boogey woman of the UFC’s strawweight division. Five successful title defenses and nobody thought she would be dethroned. Then, she was knocked out by Rose Namajunas. In the immediate rematch, Namajunas won a decision and Joanna hasn’t touched gold since.
Then, there’s Amanda Nunes. Nunes and the world were shocked when she was submitted by Julianna Pena in December of 2021. The two ran things back last summer and Nunes brutalized Pena making everyone believe that the first fight was more of a fluke.
How will the rematch go with Shevchenko and Grasso? Despite Grasso winning this bout, I expect her to still be a decent betting underdog in the rematch against Shevchenko. Time will tell if Grasso’s title reign will be something that lasts or if this will just be a bump in the road for the great Valentina Shevchenko.