UFC Vegas 62: Grasso and Araujo Meet at Critical Time and Juncture

Alexa Grasso and Viviane Araujo, UFC Vegas 62
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 14: (L-R) Opponents Alexa Grasso of Mexico and Viviane Araujo of Brazil face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on October 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC flyweights Alexa Grasso and Viviane Araujo will have the main event spotlight at a critical time as both look to break into the title picture at UFC Vegas 62.

Ever since Ronda Rousey arrived and single-handedly broke the ceiling for the kind of attention a female athlete could command, the search for “the next Ronda” has been on.  One such young lady to get the title is Mexico’s Alexa Grasso who upon entering the UFC at 23-years-old back in 2016 quickly garnered attention.  Seeing her potential as one of the sports top prospects, UFC President Dana White went as far to say that she could become the “Ronda Rousey of Mexico” in the future.

But progress is rarely a straight line and the young Grasso would quickly find herself alternating wins and losses to grapplers such as once and future champion Carla Esparza and Tatiana Suarez.  Bout cancellations due to injuries and issues on multiples sides slowed her momentum.  Now 29, Grasso has matured under the spotlight and has turned the corner as a move to flyweight has led to a three fight win streak with victories over Ji Yeon Kim, Maycee Barber, and Joanne Wood.  One can’t understate the strength of her confidence going into the bout as well; she enters the bout as one of only two top five female flyweights to be under the age of 30 and is on the best run of her career going into her first UFC headliner.

Viviane Araujo’s emergence has been a slower and more unheralded one by comparison, but she is arriving to the conversation at perhaps the most opportune time for her career.  The Brazilian contender got her career off to a 6-1 record before joining the UFC in 2019.  Since then, she has slowly made her way up the rankings, recording five victories in the Octagon but struggling to secure more than two wins in a row.  That said, her last four opponents gave her an opportunity to display her mettle as she bested veterans Andrea Lee, Montana De La Rosa, and Roxanne Modafferi while her only loss in that span came against perennial title threat Katlyn Chookagian.

Personally, the fight couldn’t come at a better time for “Vivi” if she is to have that career breakthrough.  At 35 years old, she is one of the division’s elder statesman and has yet to have a top five opponent in her UFC career.  The flyweight champion is expected to take either Manon Fiorot (should she win her fight next week) or a rematch with Taila Santos as her next bout in 2023. However, with Santos on the mend and Fiorot in a difficult test, the door is open for Araujo to secure a shot at title should the cards fall into place.  Even if the next title shot goes to another contender, there can be no denying a title eliminator should be next for her.

Stylistically, the speed and technicality of Grasso is expected to be tested against the physicality and multi-faceted game of Araujo.  Grasso should look to use high volume and footwork to keep Araujo from settling in to her offense and make it difficult to counter shots.  Movement will be key as Araujo’s best path to victory is to close the distance to either unload with shots or set up a takedown.  Araujo should look to use a well-versed attack to slow down Grasso, using kicks and body shots to slow down her opponent before looking to be the aggressor with her shot selection or get the fight to the mat where she can keep Grasso on the defensive.

The winner of the bout is in prime position in the flyweight division, but it will take a great amount of luck to secure a title shot.  The fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Manon Fiorot is expected to produce the next title challenger, though the Grasso vs Araujo winner could be in the running should Chookagian be victorious and champion Valentina Shevchenko seek a new opponent.  Fiorot is expected to be the front runner with a victory by any means, which could leave this Saturday’s winner to face former title challenger Taila Santos when she returns next year.