Alexa Grasso shocked the world at UFC 285 this past March 2023.
The seemingly unstoppable former UFC women’s Flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, was largely expected by oddsmakers (as per usual) to secure another title defense when challenged by one of Mexico’s finest. Round one went the way of Grasso, surprising the champion who adapted in the following rounds to utilize her grappling and take rounds two and three.
Round four was more of the same in favor of Shevchenko before an ill-fated spinning back kick led to her demise. Grasso took her opponent’s back and quickly locked on a face crank that earned her a huge upset submission win (watch highlights). The two are set to run things back at UFC Las Vegas on Sept. 16, 2023, and former UFC Middleweight kingpin, Michael Bisping, believes the loss may be the start of the legendary Shevchenko’s decline.
“It might sound crazy, but I think Alexa is the better fighter,” Bisping said on his YouTube channel (h/t MMA Junkie). “That doesn’t sound crazy to me at all. I thought Alexa looked really good. I think that Valentina Shevchenko has been a dominant force for so long, but everyone has their time. Everyone has their end. Everyone has their beginning of the end.
“Is this the beginning of the end of Shevchenko? Are her best days behind her? I don’t know — maybe,” he concluded. “Maybe she had an off night. Maybe Alexa Grasso is just a better fighter. I thought she looked very well. It certainly wasn’t a fluke.”
Shevchenko (23-4) has only lost to Grasso at 125 pounds. The rematch will be Shevchenko’s third in her career, having gone 1-1 in her prior second bouts against Amanda Nunes (split decision loss) and Liz Carmouche (unanimous decision win). For Grasso, it will be the first rematch of her 19-fight career (16-3) as she looks to stay undefeated (5-0) at Flyweight with a big first title defense.
“I’m a fan of Valentina, so this is not an insult, she [was] a dominant champion, and sometimes you start getting into the mindset, like Georges St-Pierre, that you get too passive in the fight, maybe a bit too defensive,” Bisping said. “She needs to go back to being that hungry killer. She needs to go forward and be the aggressor, as opposed to trying to counter all the time. But who am I to sit here and critique Shevchenko with the career she’s had.”