Grasso and Esparza Would Illuminate Cage or the Ring in Epic Crossover

February 16, 2024
3 months
Image of Boxing Gloves

Alexa Grasso and Marlen Esparza are both flyweight champions but in different sports. Grasso is the top pound-for-pound female in the UFC, while Esparza has dominated her boxing division since late 2020. Would this fight make sense as a crossover exhibition?

Where Does Grasso Go After Shevchenko Trilogy?

Image of Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko fighting in the UFC

Alexa Grasso made MMA breaking news when she dethroned Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 285. Shevchenko had held the UFC Flyweight Championship for the best part of five years, resulting in Grasso sending shockwaves through the entirety of women’s MMA. Dana White has repeatedly said that after their re-match ended with a split decision draw, the two fighters needed a third match to settle the feud. That match would undoubtedly sell tickets and PPV buys, but what happens afterward?

Should Grasso win, she will have defeated the most dominant champion in the division twice and avoided defeat three times. Will there be anything left to accomplish? Erin Blanchfield, Manon Fiorot, and Katlyn Cerminara might be exciting bouts, but they don’t move the needle like the former champion. Zhang Weili spoke to MMA news sites and said she would like to fight Grasso, but nothing was confirmed. Grasso used to fight at strawweight, the division that Weili is now the champion of, but didn’t have great success when she joined the UFC – whether she would want to return to that weight is unknown.

A crossover fight could take Grasso from MMA popularity to mainstream appeal. After which, she could go back to the UFC or pursue boxing; after all, she uses many boxing techniques in her MMA game, which could allow her to succeed in the sweet science.

Esparza Chases Undisputed Flyweight Championship

Image of Marlen Esparza in Boxing match

Marlen Esparza already has a fine boxing career. With a 14-1 overall record, she’s captured the WBA, WBC, and WBO flyweight titles. The only one she’s missing from the division is the IBF strap, currently held by Gabriela Fundora, who is undefeated at 13-0. Esparza will want that fight before anything else. The thought of derailing her biggest adversary and becoming undisputed in the same result would be a fine accomplishment. If she does that, there would be little else for her to do in strictly boxing terms.

Hence, she might consider fighting someone from outside the boxing circuit. Alexa Grasso, a flyweight champion from the UFC, would be a unique challenge for Esparza. The boxer has been used to fighting in her home state of Texas. Given the big Mexican community in the Lone Star state, Grasso would also feel at home, making for a big fight atmosphere with both women being able to call upon extensive support.

Much like Grasso, Esparza would benefit from a big fight to put that exclamation point on her resume/career. Also, like the Mexican MMA fighter, Esparza has risen to the top of her division and has few credible opponents left to fight.

How Could this Fight Happen?

The most realistic scenario would be that Alexa Grasso agrees to fight in the boxing ring. While the Mexican has never fought a professional boxing match, she incorporates many boxing techniques into her MMA strategy. She has famously won many of her early fights with first-round knockouts, making multiple Mexican MMA news websites purr excitedly.

Marlen Esparza has never shown a fondness or dislike towards MMA. She could fancy a new challenge in the cage, especially against an opponent likely to stand and trade blows with her. Should both women continue to dominate their respective featherweight divisions, it could lead to this mega fight with worlds colliding.

One interesting concept would be if Grasso and Esparza met in neither boxing nor MMA rules – but in a bare-knuckle boxing competition. This brutal style of boxing has attracted combatants who previously fought in both MMA and boxing, as, in some ways, it is a hybrid of the two fighting disciplines.

How Does Grasso-Esparza Play Out?

Should Alexa Grasso and Marlen Esparza meet in the boxing ring, there’s a definite road map for how it would unfold. The Mexican fighter would look for the finish throughout the fight, as she could use her MMA conditioning to expel more power in the shorter boxing round. While she couldn’t utilize kicks or submissions, she would land multiple punches like in the Jalisco gyms, leading to her ascendency to the UFC championship.

Esparza would be the complete opposite. She’s won 13 of her 14 fights by decision. She’s a disciple of the sweet science and always looks to outbox her opponents with clever point-scoring jabs and hooks. Of course, she would love a KO win but is confident in her abilities to defend and control fights without exerting herself. Esparza wouldn’t go hell for leather in this fight just because Grasso hasn’t boxed before; she’s far too bright for that. The contrast in styles would lead to a fascinating match-up.

If the two were to meet in an MMA contest, the fight would be over in seconds, with Grasso applying a submission or a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu move that would completely rock Esparza, inexperienced at taking offense other than punches. If BKFC could sign both women to their roster and commission the fight, then it would be a total unknown but incredibly entertaining.

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By Dean McHugh.