UFC Fight Night: What next for Grasso and Shevchenko?

UFC Fight returned to Las Vegas as Alexa Grasso celebrated Mexican Independence Day with an underwhelming split decision with Valentina Shevchenko, meaning Grasso remains the women’s flyweight champion. 

The underwhelming nature of the fight has left UFC fans conflicted as to where each fighter will respectively go from here. 

Grasso’s rise parallel with Shevchenko’s decline 

The fight swayed back and forth and then some more as Valentina initially took initiative, before Grasso planted her authority. The rest of the fight was so closely contested and meant it was anyone’s guess as to which way the bout would go.  

Grasso edged Shevchenko in terms of strikes landed but Shevchenko landed four takedowns compared to just the one from Grasso.  

In the end, Mike Bell’s decision to score the final round 10-8 to Grasso meant the fight was decided as a split draw. It was a bizarre decision considering how inconclusive the fifth round was and it led to Shevchenko believing that the judge’s decision was impacted by the fever of Mexican Independence Day. 

After the bout, Shevchenko told media in attendance that she thought the fight was 3-2 on her side. She added: “But the judges, I think felt a little bit of pressure because it’s Mexican Independence Day, that’s why they give one more to the Mexican fighter.” 

There were multiple Mexican contingents on the fight card but this suggestion from Shevchenko was bizarre, to say the least.  Many prominent journalists covering the fight believed Grasso should have won but a larger corner of MMA fans on social media went with Shevchenko.

What next?

The prospect of a trilogy may appeal to the UFC but given the dull conclusion of what was a highly marketed bout may force a re-think. 

The usual dominant aura that Shevchenko once possessed has steadily diminished following the rise of the likes of Grasso, so a trilogy does not hold the same weight given her decline. In an ideal world, Grasso takes a fight break and returns to face off against Erin Blanchfield sometime next year- with the American still undefeated in the UFC. 

As for Shevchenko, she is now 1-1-1 in her last three fights and her imposing presence has unthinkable declined in this truly unpredictable sport.

Nobody expected this drop-off. The dynamic French striker Manon Fiorot seems like the most logical matchup. But another loss for Shevchenko would be so detrimental, with a long career behind her at the age of 35.  

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