UFC 285: Alexa Grasso Credits Warrior Spirit, And Team, For Title Victory

Las Vegas, NV – History is a word reserved for the highest of accomplishments in any arena, but for UFC flyweight champion Alexa Grasso it’s the culmination of a life-long journey to a world title.

Grasso (16-3) went into UFC 285 as the underdog against the dominant long-time flyweight champion in Valentina Shevchenko with most doubting she’d be able to handle the size and strength of the defending title holder.

Most challengers seem to lose the fight before they even step into the octagon knowing they were about the face a dominant champion, but Grasso felt different.

“Honestly I was super excited. I was super happy. Like I said before I’ve dreamed with this moment like three months. Like every single night I was dreaming the way I’d walk into the octagon. The way I was fighting, and at the end getting my hand raised, and the belt,” Grasso told reporters including Cageside Press at her post-fight scrum.

After besting the champion in the first round Grasso faced some adversity when Shevchenko implemented a wrestling-heavy approach taking Grasso down repeatedly and winning the next two rounds.

“When I realized that I was touching her with my hands she changed the strategy. She was taking me to the ground. She’s so fast I was not able to defend, but when I was on the ground I always told myself, ‘You have to (get) up again, and again and again. And you won’t stop until you get up.’ That’s what I did,” said Grasso.

Before the third round Grasso’s coaches told her to lower her stance level in order to be ready to not only stuff takedowns, but give Shevchenko a different look as the fight went grappling-heavy.

Part of the game plan was to capitalize on Shevchenko’s spinning attacks that leave her exposed for just a second, but if planned for it would be all Grasso needed to take the her back.

“It was easier to take the back on that moment so I was just waiting for the perfect opportunity. When knew that she was going to spin, and like I said it was easier to take the back from that position so I was just waiting for that moment,” she said.

She was spot on as in the 4th round Shevchenko threw a spinning kick that saw Grasso literally pounce on the back of ‘Bullet’ and take the fight to the ground. As soon as it hit the ground Grasso implemented the fundamentals and snuck the arm under the chin. Putting a ridiculous squeeze on the Shevchenko’s chin that left her looking like the top half of her face was sunburnt.

“It feels great. I’ve been improving my Jiu Jitsu for so long, like as you can notice, and this means a lot to me. Now I’m finishing fights which is amazing. It’s truly amazing. I truly want to finish my fights now, and I’m getting more mature. I’m getting better as a fighter, and I’m showing that,” she said.

Now that she’s the new flyweight champion it’s time to think about defending her title. Shevchenko said in her post-fight interview that she wants an immediate rematch with Grasso being as she was the champion for such a long time.

“Of course. She was so dominant in the division. Of course we can do this again,” Grasso said.

History made in the octagon, but also for Mexico as Grasso becomes the first female champion from the country.

“Imagine that. I was born, raised, trained 100% in Mexico all my life. When we started we were used to be told no, you will never achieve it, you will never have a belt, you will never make it to the UFC. Man we were working really hard. I have an amazing team behind me. This is my family my uncle, my dad, my coaches. All my teammates now we’re fighting five rounds,” Grasso said.

“We have a lot of talent in my gym and I’m so, so proud of that.”

Mexico now has three champions in men’s flyweight champion Brandon Moreno, featherweight interim champion Yair Rodriguez, and now Grasso it’s assumed that the UFC will make a trip to the country sometime this year.

“Well we’re still missing one champion, Irene (Aldana),” Grasso told Cageside Press.

“So I hope that we can have an event in Mexico City and we can have another Mexican champion.”

The entire lead up to UFC 285 for Grasso was all about taking her preparation to extreme levels in order to be ready for the Goliath that was Shevchenko.

“This was the toughest camp of my life. I trained really hard. My coaches were super strict with me, so strict with me, I was training with heavier guys. And I think that was the key for the success. I was always hustling and hustling every single day,” said Grasso.

“And well this is the result,” Grasso said as she pointed to the belt.

From a city like Guadalajara with such a rich history, both positive and negative, and many in Mexico looking up to champions like Moreno, Rodriguez, and now Grasso, the impact that they have on the mindset of the country cannot be overstated.

The people of Mexico look up to their heroes, their warriors, and the spirit that the people of Mexico have. The example set by Grasso coming from nothing to champion is a story as old as time for a country with a people who want nothing more than a better life for themselves and their families.

Viva Mexico.

Watch the entire post-fight scrum with Alexa Grasso above.