Grasso retains UFC flyweight title after Shevchenko fight ends in draw
Alexa Grasso retained the UFC women's flyweight championship in her rematch with Valentina Shevchenko, but probably not in the manner she envisioned it.
Grasso and Shevchenko fought to a split draw (48-47, 47-48, 47-47) in the main event of Noche UFC on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. This was the sixth UFC title bout ever to end in a draw.
As a result of the tie, Grasso remained the 125-pound champion in her first title defense. Noche UFC was the promotion's first event celebrating Mexican Independence Day; Grasso is the only Mexican-born female champion in UFC history.
This fight was a rematch of their UFC 285 bout in March, where Grasso rallied to submit Shevchenko in the fourth round to capture the title and end Shevchenko's lengthy reign.
Shevchenko, one of the greatest women's MMA fighters of all time, came extremely close to retaking the throne - it came down to one judge's score in the fifth frame. Mike Bell scored that round 10-8 for Grasso, but had it just been a 10-9, Shevchenko would have won the fight - and the title - via split decision.
The second meeting between Grasso and Shevchenko was a thrilling chess match with several shifts in momentum. Shevchenko outstruck Grasso to take the first round, and Grasso floored Shevchenko with a heavy right hand in the second.
However, Shevchenko rallied back in Round 3, wrestling Grasso to the ground before attempting to submit the champion with a mounted guillotine that appeared to be tight.
The fourth round was competitive, with both Grasso and Shevchenko securing takedowns and trading shots on the feet. Grasso landed knees to Shevchenko's head as well as leg kicks, while Shevchenko had success with her jab.
The pivotal Round 5 was a tale of two parts. Shevchenko picked Grasso apart for most of the stanza, but Grasso stole it by capitalizing on a missed throw attempt. The champion took Shevchenko's back and nearly locked in a rear-naked choke, eerily reminiscent of her fourth-round submission win over Shevchenko in March, and landed punches in the waning seconds of the fight.
Grasso was riding a five-fight winning streak heading into the rematch with Shevchenko. The 30-year-old hasn't lost since 2019.
Shevchenko, 35, has now gone consecutive fights without winning for the first time in her illustrious 20-year career. She won the UFC women's flyweight title in 2018 and defended it seven times before losing to Grasso.