Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight strikers Alexa Grasso and Felice Herrig will collide this Saturday (Feb. 4, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 104 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
A long-time veteran of her division, Herrig has proven to be a solid gatekeeper inside the Octagon. She’s alternated wins and losses thus far, but “Lil Bulldog” has an opportunity to break that streak here against one of the division’s hottest prospects. After establishing a perfect record in Invicta FC, Grasso signed with UFC and showcased her kickboxing skill in a strong debut performance. This is just her second fight with the promotion, but it could already push her into the Top 10.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Heather Jo Clark (Bellator 94), Kailan Curran (UFC on FOX 20), Lisa Ellis (The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale)
Key Losses: Paige VanZant (UFC on FOX 15), Tecia Torres (Invicta FC 7), Carla Esparza (XFC 15)
Keys to Victory: An experienced Muay Thai and kickboxing competitor, Herrig is a fairly well-rounded athlete. She’s finished four of her opponents via submission, including a pair of her UFC victories. This is actually an interesting match up for Herrig, as she has the striking credentials to theoretically stand with Grasso. If she can contend with Grasso on the feet, it says very good things about her chances, as Grasso does not have much of an offensive wrestling game to fall back on.
Even if Herrig can match her opponent’s technical skill and timing on the feet, Herrig tends to fade more than Grasso, who is nearly a decade younger. To give herself the best chance of success, Herrig will have to parlay any success on the feet into a deep takedown. If Herrig can manage to get on top, she’s proven to be quite dangerous and heavy from that position. Additionally, it should allow Herrig a moment to rest, helping her keep up with the prospect.
Key Wins: Heather Jo Clark (TUF: Latin America 3 Finale), Mizuki Inoue (Invicta FC 11), Jodie Esquibel (Invicta FC 18)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Grasso is a very skilled boxer who strikes with more fluidity and power than most of her peers. So far, her defensive grappling has held up as well, as no one has been able to keep the striker on her back for long. In a match up against another striking specialist, Grasso needs to take full advantage of her youth and athleticism. Herrig may be more experienced, but Grasso has a big edge in speed and power.
Herrig has only finished one foe via knockout.
So long as Grasso stays active and avoids being discouraged early, there’s no reason she should not be able to out-work her opponent at range. Plus, Grasso’s clean fundamentals and distance management should help ensure that Herrig does not have any easy takedowns available to her.
As the fight wears on, Grasso’s advantages will grow. Once Herrig slows down and her activity drops, Grasso can up the pressure and hunt for a finish.
Bottom Line: It’s a classic match up of veteran and up-and-comer.
At 23 years old, Grasso has already climbed into the ranks and put together a solid win streak. She’s improving between each fight, meaning the potential is there for her to climb to the very top of the Strawweight division. A victory here continues that climb and further establishes Grasso as a fighter to watch. Plus, it could lead to a Top 10 match up moving forward. Alternatively, a loss slows her rise, as Grasso will need more experience before attempting another run.
As for Herrig, this is a fairly big opportunity for her as well. Against a top prospect and ranked foe, Herrig will have the chance to score a major upset in the co-main event. It would be her first pair of consecutive wins in some time, and there’s a fair chance Herrig could claim her Grasso’s spot in the rankings. On the other hand, Grasso is a large favorite expected to win by most. If Herrig comes up short, her role as gatekeeper remains intact, but another prospect has passed over her.
At UFC Fight Night 104, Felice Herrig and Alexa Grasso will scrap in the co-main event. Which woman will have her hand raised?