Noche UFC: Grasso vs. Shevchenko II Main Event Preview
NOCHE UFC: GRASSO vs. SHEVCHENKO II MAIN EVENT PREVIEW – There has been a total of nine times that Bruce Buffer has announced “And New” this year. Last week’s upset by Strickland of Adesanya was not even the biggest one, odds-wise, in a title fight this year. Those honors are reserved for the fight that is being rematched this weekend.
Alexa Grasso looks to defend her flyweight title for the first time this weekend.
Valentina Shevchenko aims to recapture her championship which she had held on to since 2018.
Will Grasso prove that her +600 upset from earlier this year was not a fluke? Or will Shevchenko reclaim what is hers and continue laying waste to the flyweight division? Read on to see what we can take from their first fight and if there are any betting angles to take advantage of this time around.
After a rough 3-3 start to her UFC career, many people believe we had overhyped Grasso when she first came into the UFC. However, she finally got comfortable in the promotion, got the experience she needed, and eventually rattled off four straight victories to help her secure a title shot. Her winning streak mixed in with the fact that there weren’t any true number one contender that Shevchenko hadn’t faced yet, the timing worked out perfectly for Grasso to get her shot.
Mainly known for her disciplined and technical striking, Grasso has diligently worked on the grappling aspect of her game, which is what allowed her to get her hand raised earlier this year. She is persistent with her output and ability to put combinations together while getting out of the pocket to avoid too much damage in return.
Her flaw has been her takedown defense, but we are seeing that she is working on trying to be active enough from her back that she can eventually find her way back to her feet. Her work with UFC fighter and black belt Diego Lopes is clearly showing off nowadays and it will be interesting to see how far her improvements can go.
It seems like Amanda Nunes had Shevchenko’s number, which were the first two losses on Shevchenko’s UFC record. Luckily for her, the UFC opened the flyweight division, and it was just a matter of time before she was afforded the opportunity to compete for it. After the original titleholder was unable to meet her expectations of defending the title, Shevchenko squared off with former strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, to crown a new flyweight queen. That started a reign of seven title defenses for Shevchenko who eventually ran into Alexa Grasso.
Initially known for her disciplined striking game, Shevchenko began to rely on her grappling game in 2020 where she was able to overpower her opponents in the clinch, drag them to the mat, and dominate them from top position. She finished three of her last five wins from top position, with two of them specifically from the crucifix position. She is so strong and tough to deal with when she establishes her base.
On the flip side, Jennifer Maia and Taila Santos showcased if they could establish their own top position, Shevchenko finds it difficult to work back to her feet. Santos nearly picked up the upset victory in June 2022, but luck was on Shevchenko’s side that night as two of the three judges scored the fight in her favor.
I was just as shocked as most when Grasso pulled off the rear naked choke victory earlier this year after Shevchenko threw a lazy spinning back kick to give up her back. To me it looked like Shevchenko was slightly slowing down because she was trying too hard to implement her grappling, which she dominated with in the second and third rounds. I feel small adjustments from the champion, including being more confident in her striking game and letting the wrestling come behind it, will allow her to regain her title.
I feel if you were comfortable parlaying Shevchenko at -800, which I’d always advise against no matter how good the fighter is, you should be eager to take her at -160 here. We saw Grasso can make this fight competitive with her striking, but it was obvious Shevchenko had a legit advantage when she was able to get the fight to the mat and establish top position. I’m going with the former champion, and I feel she gets it done by decision, although I’m fine with the moneyline.