Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Flyweight talents Alexa Grasso and Joanne Wood will duel this weekend (Sat., March 26, 2022) at UFC Columbus inside Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
It’s still a bit early to say for certain, but Grasso’s Flyweight move appears to have been the correct decision. She’s undefeated (2-0) since jumping up an additional 10 pounds and has already broken into the Top 10 as a result. For her third Flyweight bout, she faces a fellow former Strawweight in Wood. “Jojo” has climbed up to the No. 7 spot in the ranks, but overall, she’s actually struggled quite a bit lately. She’s lost her last two bouts, and on at least two separate occasions, she came up short in what was likely a title eliminator contest.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Maycee barber (UFC 258), 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 one of her division’s best boxers. She keeps her feet underneath her, throws well in combination, and understands distance well. In addition, her defensive wrestling and grappling have come a long way since Grasso first joined UFC’s roster.
This is really a match up of puncher vs. kicker. Grasso isn’t lost at range, but she’s better off in the pocket, where she can really put out a lot of volume. Conversely, Wood will be looking to hang back at distance, where the full extent of her kicking arsenal is most useful.
Pressure is the usual answer to kicks, and it applies here. Grasso doesn’t want to move forward on a straight line and try to walk through front kicks, so she’ll have to vary her pace a bit and try to chase angles, but overall keeping Wood on her backfoot is good strategy. Pressure (and effective cage-cutting) will land Grasso in the pocket more often, where she’s more likely to get off clean lands.
Between the two, Grasso seems better suited to occasionally wrestle. The Mexican fighter should be looking to catch kicks and gain top position, which would score points on the cards and deter Wood from her best weapons.
Key Wins: Andrea Lee (UFC 242), Jessica Eye (UFC Vegas 5), Valerie Letourneau (UFC Fight Night 89), Cortney Casey (UFC Fight Night 72)
Key Losses: Taila Santos (UFC Vegas 43), Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 238), Cynthia Calvillo (UFC Fight Night 113), Jessica Andrade (UFC 203), Lauren Murphy (UFC 263)
Keys to Victory: Wood began her martial arts journey in Muay Thai and competed professionally in the United Kingdom before transitioning to mixed martial arts (MMA). She’s a volume striker, capable of putting up big numbers by constantly picking at her opponent with kicks, though she’s quite good in the clinch also.
As explained above, Grasso wants to box from the pocket. Wood’s goal then is to avoid that range by fighting all the way in or all the way out. At distance, she’s the more powerful and more active kicker, which is fairly self-explanatory.
When Grasso looks to close, however, trying to fight into the clinch would be a smart move. The clinch can stymie combinations, but just as importantly, that position can serve as an offensive opportunity for Wood, who’s downright mean with knees and elbows.
Ultimately, this fight is likely to come down to volume, so regardless of distance, Wood should be trying to stay ahead on that game as well.
Women’s Flyweight is starved for contenders.
Could Grasso conceivably be next in line if victorious here? Why not! Valentina Shevchenko has already trounced most of the women ranked above her, and if that pattern continues vs. Taila Santos this summer, there wouldn’t be many athletes more deserving than Grasso. Shevchenko likes to stay active, so somebody has to fight her after all.
Given her recent pair of losses, Wood likely needs more than just this victory. At the same time, UFC keeps giving her big opportunities, because she’s a bigger name for the division and generally an exciting fighter. If Wood can pick up a win here, she’s right back in good position to finally earn a title shot.
At UFC Columbus, Alexa Grasso and Joanne Wood will throw down in the co-main event. Which fighter will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Columbus fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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