Valentina Shevchenko might be down, but she’s far from out.
One of the fiercest champions to ever step into the Octagon, Shevchenko refuses to be defined by the errant spinning back kick that ultimately led to a fourth-round submission loss to Alexa Grasso on February 4 at UFC 285.
“I will be back for immediate rematch stronger than ever,” the former flyweight champ vowed on Instagram, days after losing her belt by rear-naked choke.
The loss was especially stunning because Shevchenko—as she had done to the previous seven title challengers—was imposing her will and racking up rounds in the championship bout. Grasso might have landed some hard punches in the first, but the “Bullet” made the proper adjustments to take the fight to the ground, tilting the odds back in her favor in the second and third rounds.
One Mistake to Lose the Title
“This is kind of like what happens in mixed martial arts: You’re winning the fight all around—all three rounds, no doubt—and a stupid situation can change the whole game,” Shevchenko told Joe Rogan during her post-fight interview. “I know that I’m stronger. If not for the spinning kick, it’d be a different result.”
One critical mistake proved to be the only opening Grasso needed to upend the reigning queen. Shevchenko, who was riding a nine-fight win streak heading into the Grasso fight, said an immediate rematch is warranted.
“Definitely an immediate rematch, because I know I was winning that fight,” Shevchenko said.
The world knows that, Valentina. Anyone with a pulse would also know that Grasso showed Shevchenko—seen as a demigod with no weaknesses during her tenure as champ—is actually mortal after all.
What Will Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2 Look Like?
In what could quite possibly go down as “Upset of the Year,” Grasso was able to stun Shevchenko with numerous stinging punches. The new champ also did a stellar job of avoiding any serious damage on the ground. Still, the Mexican didn’t have an answer from the bottom, struggling to get back to her feet, ending the second and third rounds on her back. She only managed to create a stalemate, forcing the ref to stand up both fighters for non-activity.
Credit to Grasso — she earned that upset. She could very likely come out and beat Shevchenko again in a rematch, but the “Bullet” will be armed with a blueprint.
Shevchenko knows she will win the exchanges on the ground. On the feet, she has felt Grasso’s power and experienced her speed. It is not likely Shevchenko entertains a stand-and-bang the second time around, and she’ll undoubtedly bring in some southpaws to give her more looks at a crucial strategy Grasso deployed.
Those slight adjustments combined with a thirst for revenge will lead “Bullet 2.0” back to her throne.
And it would be disgraceful for the UFC to deny Shevchenko an immediate rematch. Only five fighters in UFC history have ever had more consecutive successful title defenses than Shevchenko. Ronda Rousey—highly regarded as one of the most dominant champions ever—only had six. Israel Adesanya just got another shot at solving the Alex Pereira puzzle. He had only defended his title five consecutive times.
The UFC will do the right thing, and a new and improved Shevchenko will be ready.