The UFC is celebrating Mexican Independence Day at the T-Mobile Arena on September 16th and today we learned what the main event will be. Per The Schmo, at the event on September 16th, Mexico’s Alexa Grasso (16-3) will defend her newly won flyweight title against the former longtime champion Valentina Shevchenko (23-4).
Valentina Shevchenko entered her title defense against Grasso back in March at UFC 285 like it was going to be just another night at the office. Shevchenko was coming off her closest title fight yet against Taila Santos the year before, but most thought she’d handle business against Grasso.
In fact, many thought she picked Grasso as an opponent in which she could make a statement against. However, the first round showed the world that Grasso was going to make it a fight. With her crisp boxing, Grasso took the opening round.
However, Shevchenko’s grappling allowed her to win the next two rounds on all three scorecards and path to victory was set. That is until she threw a poorly thrown spinning back kick that was caught by Grasso. Grasso immediately took Shevchenko’s back and locked in a rear naked choke for the win.
The win snapped Shevchenko’s nine-fight winning streak and denied her of her eighth successful UFC title defense.
UFC’s First Female Mexican Champion
In 2021, Brandon Moreno became the first Mexican born fighter to wear UFC gold. This year, Alexa Grasso became the first female fighter to have been born in Mexico and wear UFC gold. She shocked the world that night and moved to a perfect 5-0 since moving to the flyweight division.
Despite being the champion, my guess is that Grasso is going to be the betting underdog in this fight. She definitely has one advantage from the first fight and that’s her boxing. Shevchenko might have the overall advantage in diverse striking, but Grasso’s hands are better.
Grasso needs to have better takedown defense in their rematch. The first fight saw Shevchenko land big takedowns and expose a weakness in Grasso’s game. If Grasso can tighten that up and keep things at a boxing range, she could have a lot of success in the rematch.
There’s likely going to be a huge crowd in Vegas supporting Grasso as she defends her UFC title for the first time. However, she’s going to have a fierce competitor after her in Valentina Shevchenko. The big question is regarding Shevchenko, will she come back like Amanda Nunes or will she come back like Joanna Jedrzejczyk? We will find out in September.