Alexa Grasso Wants to Make This a Mexican Independence Day to Remember

November 15, 2023
4 months

Valentina Shevchenko may have spent the past six months following her UFC 285 defeat thinking about a missed spinning attack. In the fourth round of a fight Shevchenko was winning, she attempted a high-risk maneuver to catch challenger Alexa Grasso off-guard.

Grasso, however, was ready. She quickly took Shevchenko’s back and secured a face-crank submission with 26 seconds left in the fourth round. Grasso’s win halted Shevchenko’s stretch of seven consecutive title defenses. Shevchenko has been one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history; this is a chance to show she can handle adversity. That fight will highlight a card on Saturday featuring a heavy Mexican contingent. 

Can Alexa Grasso do it Again?

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Mixed martial arts may be the ultimate example of a sport where it’s best to avoid looking at the stats to determine who won. The numbers from the box score of Shevchenko and Grasso’s first fight favor the former champion. Shevchenko landed more significant strikes, holding an 87-59 edge, and took Grasso down four times.

Shevchenko was ahead 29-28 on all three judges’ scorecards before Grasso submitted her. Grasso, who is 16-3 in her career, only has two submission wins. In the rematch, Shevchenko will likely try to stick to her striking and avoid any spinning or high-risk maneuver that puts her in danger.

This is an important fight for Alexa Grasso for many reasons. Mexican fighters had been making major waves recently. Brandon Moreno was briefly the flyweight champion before losing to Alexandre Pantoja in July. Irene Aldana also unsuccessfully challenged Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title. Alexa Grasso is the only Mexican champion and will want to defend on a card designed to celebrate Mexican Independence Day.

Holland Happy to Be at Welterweight

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Kevin Holland ranked No. 13 at welterweight, is always happy to take on new challenges. Besides a bizarre set of circumstances that forced him to fight Khamzat Chimaev in a catchweight fight, Holland is 4-1 in his last five fights at welterweight. Holland also showed off his grappling in his last win, a submission of talented grappler Michael Chiesa on July 29 at UFC 291.

Holland’s opponent this weekend will be eager to show his last fight was a fluke. No. 14 Jack Della Maddalena has now won 15 straight fights, including five in the UFC, but was unimpressive during his fight on July 15 against promotional newcomer Bassil Hafez. Hafez, who took the fight on short notice, out-grappled Della Maddalena to the point that it ended up being a split decision on the cards.

Raúl Rosas Jr. Ready to Earn Stripes

Bantamweight Raúl Rosas Jr. debuted with the UFC on Dana White Contender’s Series at age 17. He raised eyebrows by submitting Jay Perrin during his main roster debut against Jay Perrin on Dec. 10, 2022. Rosas, who is 7-1, was starting to talk about being the youngest UFC champion ever.

While Rosas may still do that, his hype train took a speed bump when he lost a decision to Christian Rodriguez in April at UFC 287. Rosas, a talented grappler, still needs to make strides when it comes to striking. At this event,  Rosas will need to try and find a way to take down Terrance Mitchell, who is 14-3 and has won all 14 of his fights by finish.

All of Mitchell’s victories came on the regional scene, however. During Mitchell’s UFC debut at UFC 290, he was knocked out by Cameron Saaiman less than two minutes into the fight.

Giagos Hopes to Save Career

Christos Giagos, 33, surprised many with his first-round knockout of Ricky Glenn on April 22. Giagos, 20-10, had been finished in his previous two lightweight fights before taking on Glenn. He may have been cut with a loss.

Giagos may be in an excellent position to get another victory. Mexican fighter Daniel Zellhuber is 12-1 in his career but 1-1 in UFC bouts. This will be an exciting bout for guys trying to make their name in the UFC.

Padilla Looks to Make Strong Second Impression

Fernando Padilla took advantage of making his UFC debut against the chinny Julian Erosa. Padilla dropped Erosa early in the first round and secured a knockout win. Padilla is 15-4 in his MMA career and will take on Canadian veteran Kyle Nelson at featherweight. 

Nelson has been in a tailspin. While Nelson did pick up a win over Blake Bilder in June, he is 2-4-1 over his past seven fights. Nelson hasn’t been fighting top competition, so a loss here may doom Nelson’s chances of staying in the UFC.

Reed Finally Finds an Opponent

Elise Reed was initially slated to fight Cynthia Calvillo in a strawweight fight. However, Calvillo pulled out, and Reed was slated to fight Iasmin Lucindo at catchweight. Reed was removed from that bout and replaced by Josefine Knutsson. Lucindo then pulled out, and so Knutsson will fight another newcomer, Marnic Mann.

Several Other Fights Didn’t Come Together

Daniel Rodriguez was expected to fight Santiago Ponzinibbio at welterweight. Rodriguez failed a USADA drug test for ostarine. Chris Curtis and Anthony Hernandez were also expected to fight. However, Curtis had to pull out with a rib injury, and Hernandez had to pull out of the fight with a torn ligament.

Other Bouts on the Card

One of the top fights on the early prelims will be between No. 14 Tracy Cortez and No. 15 Jasmine Jasudavicius at women’s flyweight. Cortez is 10-1 in her career but hasn’t fought since May 2022, when she beat Melissa Gatto by decision. Jasudavicius has a 9-2 career record and has picked up two straight decision wins, including a win over Miranda Maverick in June.

Other fights on the card include:

  • Lightweight: Natan Levy vs. Alex Reyes.
  • Flyweight: Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda.
  • Middleweight: Roman Kopylov vs. Josh Fremd.

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