Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Flyweight prospects Maycee Barber and Alexa Grasso will collide this weekend (Sat., Feb. 13, 2021) at UFC 258 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Barber was set as the next big thing at 125 pounds. After all, a hard-hitting 21-year-old known as “The Future” pretty much sells herself when she’s scoring knockout wins and targeting Jon Jones’ youngest champion record. However, the combination of Roxanne Modafferi’s wrestling and a torn ACL served as a reckoning for the up-and-comer, who last competed 13 months ago. Meanwhile, Grasso continues struggling a bit to live up to the lofty expectations inspired by her Invicta FC career. She is moving in the right direction, however, having won two of her last three in impressive fashion, and the sole loss was a competitive one to a highly-ranked contender in Carla Esparza.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Gillian Robertson (UFC on ESPN 6), JJ Aldrich (UFC Fight Night 148), Hannah Cifers (UFC Fight Night 139)
Key Losses: Roxeanne Modafferi (UFC 246)
Keys to Victory: The hype around Barber seriously deflated following her first career loss, but that doesn’t mean much. She’s still a highly talented 22-year-old prospect with serious athleticism and power, and the depth of skill will likely come, as she’s been working with world-class fight teams.
Similar to her fight with J.J. Aldrich, Barber is faced with an opponent who appears to be the better technical kickboxer. In that match, Barber was out-pointed early, but once she did connect, the tide turned incredibly quickly.
That’s the gift of power.
Grasso, however, is a more experienced fighter and boxer. No one on her record appears to be an incredibly hard hitter, but one would assume she’s less likely to crumble at Barber’s first true connection.
Rather than rely on power to turn the tide, Barber should pursue the clinch. In close, her physical strength will be more important. Plus, if she’s able to score a takedown on the long-time Strawweight, Barber has shown vicious ground striking in the past.
Key Wins: Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 238), Randa Markos (UFC Fight Night 114), Mizuki Inoue (Invicta FC 11), Ji Yeon Kim
Key Losses: Tatiana Suarez (UFC Fight Night 129), Carla Esparza (UFC Fight Night 159), Felice Herrig (UFC Fight Night 104)
Keys to Victory: Grasso is a really solid boxer, one who throws in combination well and keeps her feet beneath her throughout exchanges. Historically, takedown defense has been an issue, but Grasso seems to improve fight-to-fight on that end.
The Mexican boxer remains just 27 years old.
Against Barber, established range will be key. Like many young, aggressive fighters, Barber is pretty content to surge forward on a straight line. Subsequently, Grasso’s job is to intercept that rush with straight shots and then disappear with lateral movement, leaving Barber swinging at air.
Prior to getting her takedowns going, Modafferi found success with just that strategy, and her striking skill is a few notches behind Grasso. Grasso should be a bit more wary of prolonged exchanges than usual, at least until she has a read on her foe’s speed and power.
Women’s Flyweight is thin enough that the winner is close to the title mix.
If Barber still has her eyes on becoming the youngest world champion in UFC history, “The Future” had best get moving, because she turns 23 in May. Jones defeated Mauricio Rua at 23 years of age and 242 days, so Barber has what, roughly until this time next year to put together a win streak and dethrone Valentina Shevchenko?
Good luck! But if there’s any chance at all, it must begin with a win here.
Grasso’s relocation to Flyweight was smart, assuming her wrestling continues to hold up. There are numerous contenders at Strawweight, whereas it only takes two to three wins at 125 pounds to potentially secure a shot. If Grasso impresses here, she could find herself in the cage with one of the current top contenders next.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 258 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 258: “Usman vs. Burns” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC 258, Maycee Barber and Alexa Grasso will square off in the co-main event. Which woman will have her hand raised?