Alexa Grasso retained her UFC women’s flyweight title at Noche UFC, but her championship defense didn’t come in the manner she would have intended.
Grasso and former champion Valentina Shevchenko faced off in a hotly-anticipated rematch on Mexican Independence Day at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the pair battled all the way to the scorecards in a hard-fought, closely-contested battle.
It was supposed to be a fight that would either solidify Grasso’s status as champion, or see Shevchenko reclaim her throne after her shock defeat in their first meeting. But, when the judges’ scorecards were read, the fighters were met with confusion, rather than closure.
Shevchenko appeared to settle the quicker and edged the opening round on all three scorecards, but Grasso came back strongly in Round 2, and dropped the former champion with a big right hand. “Bullet” turned to her grappling in Round 3 as she took the action to the mat and threatened with a mounted guillotine, but Grasso defended well to avoid the submission. But, nonetheless, Shevchenko’s mat skills ensured she held sway heading into the championship rounds.
Round 4 may have been the closest of the bout, as Shevchenko and Grasso battled back and forth in a very tight five minutes. Then, in the final round, Grasso took advantage of a Shevchenko takedown attempt to scramble her way into back mount, where she hammered the former champ with punches before attempting to lock up a rear-naked choke. Shevchenko hung tough to survive the choke, but it was a clear round to Grasso.
When the scores were read, judge Sal D’Amato scored the fight 48-47 to Shevchenko, with Kamijo scoring it 48-47 to Grasso. But the third scorecard, from judge Mike Bell, scored the fight even at 47-47, thanks to a 10-8 round for Grasso in the final round.
That controversial Round 5 score from Bell left the arena frustrated as Grasso retained her title. A trilogy bout now seems more than likely.
In the co-main event, Jack Della Maddalena continued his unbeaten run in the UFC with a split-decision win over Kevin Holland, while Raul Rosas Jr. bounced back from his first UFC defeat with a resounding victory as he finished Terrence Mitchell via TKO in just 54 seconds of their bantamweight matchup.
Earlier in the night, there was also an emotional win for rising flyweight prospect Tracy Cortez, who picked up a hard-earned victory over Jasmine Jasudavicius to extend her winning streak to 11.
Noche UFC: Official results
- Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko scored a split draw (48-47, 47-48, 47-47) – for flyweight title
- Jack Della Maddalena def. Kevin Holland via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Raul Rosas Jr. def. Terrence Mitchell via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:54
- Daniel Zellhuber def. Christos Giagos via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 2, 3:26
- Kyle Nelson def. Fernando Padilla via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Loopy Godinez def. Elise Reed via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:37
- Roman Kopylov def. Josh Fremd via knockout (body shot) – Round 2, 4:44
- Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda ruled a no contest (premature stoppage) – Round 1, 3:47
- Tracy Cortez def. Jasmine Jasudavicius via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Charlie Campbell def. Alex Reyes via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:38
- Josefine Knutsson def. Marnic Mann via unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-27)