MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 285, a five-round UFC women’s title bout between champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Alexa Grasso. The event takes place on Saturday, March 4 at T-Mobile Arena.
Valentina Shevchenko (-600)
Shevchenko (23-3) is the UFC women’s flyweight champion. The 34-year-old legend is one of the greatest women’s fighters in UFC history. She was the second-best women’s bantamweight besides Amanda Nunes, and since moving down to flyweight in 2018, she is a perfect 9-0 in the weight class. For the most part, Shevchenko has completely dominated her opponents. In her last fight, she did struggle somewhat against Taila Santos, but she still managed to come out with a split-decision win. She is an incredibly well-rounded fighter and is now looking for another successful title defense.
Alexa Grasso (+450)
Grasso (15-3) is one of the top contenders at 125lbs. The 29-year-old Mexican first joined the UFC in 2016 and she was immediately put on the fast track to title contention at 115lbs, but she struggled to get on a consistent winning streak. In 2020, Grasso moved up to 125lbs and since then she has become one of the best women’s flyweights with a 4-0 record. She has looked much better at this new weight class, and her win streak earned her a title shot against the champion Shevchenko. She’ll now look to go out there and get a huge upset win over the champ, but it won’t be easy.
Fight Breakdown: Grasso is the next title challenger for Shevchenko, but I see this fight going like many of Shevchenko’s other title defenses at 125lbs, and that’s with her getting her hand raised in a dominant fashion. Although Shevchenko struggled against Santos in her last fight, I don’t think Grasso has the grappling skills to give the champ any problems. On the feet, Grasso is certainly a good boxer, but Shevchenko should be able to match her with her overall kickboxing ability. On the ground, though, is where the champ has the biggest advantage. If she can get the fight to the ground, this should be a clear win for the champion, and that’s why she is such a hefty favorite. Grasso is tough to finish, so a decision seems more likely, but a submission win for Shevchenko is possible. Either way, I fully expect her to win this fight and then take on Erin Blanchfield next.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko via decision