UFC 258: Grasso Seeks Breakthrough Victory Against Barber

Maycee Barber and Alexa Grasso, UFC 258
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Opponents Maycee Barber and Alexa Grasso of Mexico face off during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on February 12, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

One of MMA’s brightest prospects will be taking on a fighter eager for her own breakthrough as Maycee Barber will take on Alexa Grasso in the co-main event at UFC 258.

Despite the setbacks, there’s plenty of time to be the next big thing when you’re still 22 years old.  Coming off the first loss of her career and a year layoff, Maycee Barber will need an absolutely perfect run to meet her goal of beating Jon Jones’ record of being the youngest champion in UFC history.  Not impossible, but it is certainly a skyscraper of an order when you consider it would likely have to culminate in an upset of veterans and topple a pound-for-pound powerhouse in champion Valentina Shevchenko.

Since entering the UFC in 2018, “The Future” has played into the UFC’s star making machine perfectly.  She’s stopped opponents impressively and unapologetically called for bigger things afterward each time.  A standout of season 1 of Dana White’s Contender Series, Barber is considered one of the top prospects in mixed martial arts today.  Following her loss to Roxanne Modafferi and subsequent knee injury, she has also changed things up in her camp by now working with Israel Martinez and Mike Valle in Chicago.

One of the top prospects to come out of Mexico, the 29 year-old Alexa Grasso is looking to finally have the career breakthrough that has eluded her so far. After opening her career 9-0 and coming into her own in Invicta, Grasso entered the UFC in 2016 where she has alternated wins and losses over the past five years.  In her tenure she has recorded victories over former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Randa Markos, and Heather Jo Clark.  Despite her success, she has found herself being used as the springboard for top fighters such as the undefeated Tatiana Suarez and resurgent former champion Carla Esparza as they climbed up the rankings.

In early 2020, Grasso was forced out of a high profile strawweight bout with Claudia Gadelha  after missing weight by more than five pounds.  The turn of events led to Grasso moving up in weight and she made her flyweight debut in August against Ji Yeon Kim where she won by unanimous decision.  After the loss of key bouts, Grasso now has a huge opportunity as she will be the co-main event on the pay-per-view portion of Saturday night.  If she can turn back Barber, she figures to take a huge step forward to establishing herself in the top ten.

The fight will see the more explosive Barber deal with the formidable technical boxing of Grasso.  Barber should look to use her physicality and keep Grasso with her back to the cage as often as possible to eliminate her ability to sprawl in the center of the Octagon.  At close range, Barber can use her power to rip into Grasso with body shots or use the clinch to get the fight to the ground.  Grasso should look to use her vaunted boxing in the middle of the cage and work combinations behind a jab where she figures to be able to outbox Barber.

The winner of the bout will look to make moves up the top ten where names like Viviane Araujo or Joanne Calderwood could be next.  Considering that current champion Valentina Shevchenko is looking to remain active and has already run roughshod over several opponents, it is not out of the question that the Grasso and Barber winner could find themselves in a high stakes bout simply by process of elimination by the end of 2021.