Fight fans usually do not get to see a championship fight at the top of the bill of a non pay-per-view event in the UFC. This Saturday, however, fans who tune into ESPN+ will be treated to an exception to that rule.
In commemoration of Mexican Independence Day, MMA‘s top promotion holds a special edition of UFC Fight Night. Dubbed Noche UFC, Saturday night’s event (main card 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT) features a number of fighters from Mexico competing in the famed Octagon and will be capped off with a Women’s Flyweight Championship fight.
Grasso vs. Shevchenko II Serves as Noche UFC Main Event
Incumbent UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Alexa Grasso (16-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) fights challenger and No. 1 contender, Valentina Shevchenko (23-4 MMA, 12-3 UFC) for the second time this year in the headliner. As with all UFC championship bouts, the Noche UFC main event is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.
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Their last head-to-head meeting took place on the night of March 4 during UFC 285. That night, Grasso locked in a fourth-round rear naked choke to take the title. With the same venue and the same veniremen in place for Saturday’s fight, how will the rematch play out?
Noche UFC Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the Noche UFC main event on Saturday night, both contestants stand level at 5-foot-5. Shevchenko owns a one-inch reach advantage (67 inches to 66 inches) and a negligible half-inch leg reach advantage over Grasso.
As of Thursday afternoon, the oddsmakers have challenger Valentina Shevchenko installed as a -166 favorite on the money line, with champion Alexa Grasso countering as a +140 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.
Alexa Grasso Looking to Keep Belt in Mexico
Champion Alexa Grasso has posted a 5-0 record in her last five fights. Before the first contest versus Shevchenko, she scored a unanimous decision victory against Viviane Araujo (11-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) last October.
During her Wednesday media availability, the titleholder received a customized championship belt. She mentioned that the timing of the Noche UFC main event is most apropos.
“I always say that making history is never easy,” Grasso began, “but I’ve been working so, so hard every single day of my life to be at this moment. This last camp wasn’t different. I was training more. I was with more discipline. I was like two or three times extreme with my training. With everything that has to be done to be the champion again, to win the fight again, I just try to keep focused on the goal.”
It’ll be interesting to see just what exactly Alexa Grasso has done to improve her gameplan ahead of the rematch vs. Shevchenko.
Valentina Shevchenko Looking to Get Back on Track in Noche UFC Main Event
In the other corner, challenger Valentina Shevchenko has gone 4-1 in her last five contests, including a split decision win against Talia Santos (19-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) in June of last year. Recently, Shevchenko talked with MMAFighting.com.
She outlined her plan of attack. Spoiler alert: It’s a simple agenda.
“I’m not playing around,” the challenger declared. “I’ll just go there– my goal, enter the Octagon, finish, destroy my opponent, take my belt back, and continue what I have to continue.”
Although her gameplan is drawn out in plain view, it’s still something that’s easier said than done.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Noche UFC main event looks to favor Valentina Shevchenko, a decorated boxer and Muay-Thai fighter with black belts in Taekwondo and Judo, along with a Master of Sports in Taekwondo, Muay-Thai, kickboxing and boxing. Alexa Grasso counters with a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Alexa Grasso Can End the Fight Right Away
Although it has not happened by this method in a long while, an Alexa Grasso knockout is something amazing to watch. Back in December of 2014, Grasso disposed Alida Gray in quick fashion.
Right from the command to fight, Grasso landed a couple of strikes against Gray. Even though Gray slowed the fight down, it was short-lived, with Grasso unloading right-handed punches and uppercuts on her.
A left hook sat Alida Gray, enabling Alexa Grasso to finish the job with ground and pound shots. If Grasso can land copious punches, her first defense of the strap will be a successful one.
Watch Shevchenko’s Kicking Game
In the other corner, Valentina Shevchenko has been known to land devastating kicks. One need look no further than her 2019 bout versus Jessica Eye.
Round two started with the contestants exchanging leg kicks, but Shevchenko quickly became the aggressor, scoring with an audible chop to the body. Smelling blood in the water, she connected on a kick to Eye’s head, dropping her to the mat and knocking her out on contact. The referee didn’t even hesitate to wave off the fight in just 26 seconds.
If Valentina Shevchenko comes out kicking in the Noche UFC main event, she will regain the belt.
This looks to be the most entertaining fight this weekend in MMA, so you will not want to miss it.
Prediction: Alexa Grasso by Unanimous Decision.