Alexa Grasso has proven for a while that she’s one of the best female strikers in the UFC. And in a few days, she’ll get a chance to further that claim.
Grasso is set to challenge women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in the co-main event of Saturday’s UFC 285 in Las Vegas. This is a monumental moment for Grasso (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC). Not only is she making history as the first Mexico-born woman to challenge for a UFC title, but she’ll also get a chance to prove her Mexican-style boxing is indeed at the very top of this sport.
“This is the best test to show that I have the best boxing in the division,” Grasso told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “Obviously I’m not going to win the fight by just using my hands, because she’s a very complete fighter, and I need to have all areas covered, but definitely my biggest weapon. I’m sure that my hands will shine that night.”
Grasso believes her famed boxing style will play a key role in her fight against Shevchenko (23-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC). She also believes that trusting her skills and not letting Shevchenko’s dominance intimidate her will greatly aid her striking.
“As you mention it, she’s been a very dominant champion,” Grasso said. “She’s good in the striking with her kicks but also in the wrestling and jiu-jitsu areas. She’s very good.
“I’ve always liked to fight the best, because it makes me improve a ton, and it makes me demand a ton from myself. I think the key for me in this one was my discipline in each training camp. This time I went overboard with everything that I did. I also think above everything. It’s the heart. You have to go in there without any doubts. I’m going in there knowing what I need to do. Is it going to be hard? Yes, but I trust in my heart.”
Although Shevchenko remains unbeaten at 125 pounds with seven consecutive title defenses, some have argued she’s looked more vulnerable in recent bouts. Jennifer Maia was able to have some success on the ground and win a round, and most recently, Taila Santos took her to a split decision, leaving some fans thinking she lost.
Grasso doesn’t buy that criticism. At the end of the day, Shevchenko is still champion in a very tough sport.
“You can’t do everything perfect,” Grasso said. “You do one bad thing and everyone goes, ‘Oh, you’re no good. This and that.’ You need to be perfect in everything so that no one says anything bad about you. But that’s how it goes. No one can be perfect. Whoever doesn’t make mistakes is because they’re not doing anything.
“Yeah, maybe she’s lost a round here and there, but that doesn’t matter. What I do know is that studying your opponent well, making a specific game plan for your opponent, and believing in it – which is what I’ve been doing. I’m confident on the work that my coaches have made – Francisco (Grasso) and Diego (Lopes). Believe me, it’s going to be a good, good night.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 285.