The co-main event of UFC 285 produced a title shock as Alexa Grasso made history as the first Mexican woman to capture a UFC title with a stunning fourth-round submission of the all-conquering champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Grasso started superbly and outboxed Shevchenko on the feet, including a couple of outstanding combinations that appeared to stun the champion, but Shevchenko adjusted well after the restart and brought her takedowns into play in Round 2 to bring things back to parity.
Grasso continued to carry a threat on the feet, however, and her boxing remained dangerous as she stepped into range and let fly with bad intentions, while
Round 3 saw Shevchenko attempt to counter Grasso’s boxing with sharp counters, but her shots didn’t carry the same weight or power as Grasso’s striking work, so the champion wisely switched gears and took the Mexican to the canvas with a perfectly-timed takedown.
With the action on the mat, Shevchenko dominated and, even after a somewhat questionable stand-up from referee Jason Herzog, Shevchenko quickly took things to the mat again and briefly threatened with a rear-naked choke to put the stamp on a strong round for the champion.
It meant the bout headed into the championship rounds, and Grasso took advantage of one of the champion’s signature moves to score an incredible victory.
Shevchenko threw a spinning back kick, which Grasso evaded, before the challenger immediately jumped on the champion’s back and instantly locked up a rear-naked choke. The pair then fell to the mat, where Grasso adjusted her grip and applied the squeeze to force the champion to tap with 26 seconds left in the round.
It was as dramatic a finish as it was unexpected. Most thought Grasso’s best path to victory was via her striking, but in the end it was her preparation, and her opportunism, that saw her take advantage of a split-second opening to hand Shevchenko her first defeat as a UFC champion.
It means Mexico now has a third active UFC champion, with Grasso joining reigning men’s flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and newly-crowned interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez.
UFC 285: Official results
- Jon Jones def. Ciryl Gane via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 2:04 – for heavyweight title
- Alexa Grasso def. Valentina Shevchenko via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 4, 4:34 – for women’s flyweight title
- Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Geoff Neal via submission (standing rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:17
- Mateusz Gamrot def. Jalin Turner via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Bo Nickal def. Jamie Pickett via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:54
- Cody Garbrandt def. Trevin Jones via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Dricus du Plessis def. Derek Brunson via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:59
- Amanda Ribas def. Viviane Araujo via unanimous decision (29-27, 30-26, 30-27)
- Marc-Andre Barriault def. Julian Marquez via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:12
- Ian Garry def. Song Kenan via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:22
- Cameron Saaiman def. Leomana Martinez via majority decision (29-26, 28-27, 28-28)
- Tabatha Ricci def. Jessica Penne via submission (armbar) – Round 2, 2:14
- Farid Basharat def. Da’Mon Blackshear via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Loik Radzhabov def. Esteban Ribovics via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)