Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2 predictions | UFC Fight Night 227 1

The rematch is here. Alexa Grasso will defend the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship against Valentina Shevchenko in the main event of UFC Fight Night 227 (Noche UFC) this Saturday night.

Grasso stunned the mixed martial arts world when she submitted the long-reigning Shevchenko at UFC 285 in March. Despite entering that fight as a +750 underdog on some betting sites, Grasso prevailed after quickly taking the back of Shevchenko and submitting her with a face crank.

Now, Shevchenko gets a chance to reclaim the title in what promises to be an exciting main-event matchup. In this article, we’ll break down the fight in detail before providing predictions and best bets for the title fight rematch.

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Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 betting odds

The odds are far closer this time around, with the champion still set to enter as an +140 underdog against the challenger, who’s listed at -170.

  • Alexa Grasso: +140 (BetUS)
  • Valentina Shevchenko: -170 (BetUS)

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Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 predictions

Read our staff predictions and breakdowns before Noche UFC and the UFC Fight Night 227 card.

Braeden Arbour

As in any rematch of this caliber, it will largely depend on what adjustments the two can make after having truly felt the speed, timing and power of one another the last time. In their first fight, it seemed as though Shevchenko was not prepared for the speed and power as well as Grasso’s ability to cover distance with her punches so well. Largely, this is also because Grasso kept Shevchenko guessing with deliberate movement, shifting away, plodding forward and hiding her entries between false starts. She also maintained good head movement in space and dipped to bait Shevchenko’s counters which ultimately froze the then-champion at times. That being said, while Grasso used crafty footwork and movement and proved quick and explosive, she didn’t stray too far away from basic boxing.

As a southpaw vs. Southpaw matchup, Shevchenko was unable to use her typical body kicks to high kick setups as she would in an opposite stance. When Grasso threw the left straight, Shevchenko did have success countering with the spinning backfist early but as time went on abandoned it. This may also be because Grasso did a good job using her jab to put Shevchenko on the cage before committing to the cross later on.

It is pretty much agreed upon that the finishing sequence was a major misjudgement on Shevchenko’s part to throw the spinning back kick at such close range to each other and the cage. Although Grasso won by submission, grappling would still seem to be the safest route to victory for Shevchenko. She had consistent success ducking under the boxing combinations of Grasso to the double leg takedown, but Grasso impressed with her ability to scramble and utilize her guard to keep moving and avoid strikes. More importantly, when Shevchenko got to positions she was unable to settle, the closest being a crucifix that never fully got locked in and a back take where she almost immediately lost the hooks.

Shevchenko’s bodylock takedowns may be more key to securing positions as it allows her to bypass the legs during the initial takedown, rather than landing in the guard as with a level change and having to move through Grasso’s knee shield, butterfly guard and closed guard as she had to early in the fight. The one case where she used the outside trip from bodylock against Grasso she landed in half guard, an inferior position to side control, mount or the back in terms of grappling but offers potentially better control of Grasso’s hips in MMA especially against a strong scrambler.

It’s also notable that Grasso made a significant gilloutine attempt nearing the end of the previous round to the finish, both her submission and closest attempt came off of scrambles, so it’s a massive difference for Shevchenko to attack takedowns that land her past the legs to begin with. It’s a competitive fight on the feet, I think there is more for Shevchenko to adjust over the course of the camp that will help bridge the success gap there.

On the mat I think Grasso was supremely prepared for how strong Shevchenko’s control positions are but getting to a point where she can be constantly on the offense is a big jump. The most likely scenario I believe is Shevchenko going back to the wrestling she had success with in their first encounter but by being a bit more patient and settling into half guard and other positions, and being satisfied with control first will make the difference.

Pick: Valentina Shevchenko to win (-170 at BetUS)

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Michael Pounders

As I’ve done before with rematches, I’m going to spend less time breaking down the individual fighters and more time on the prediction analysis.

Grasso, the current champion of the flyweight division shocked the world as a _ underdog when she toppled the queen via 4th round submission. Grasso is a hardnosed and fundamental boxer who uses a reliable combination of technical striking and toughness to walk opponents down and land damage in tight. While her striking can be, at times, in accurate because she uses her strikes to push forward with pressure, her volume and strategy are refined. Additionally, her defense, which is ever-important because of her pressure-heavy style, is above average- 59%. While Grasso is not a frequent or particularly successful wrestler, if the fight does hit the mat, the champ is an adept scrambler, able to reverse positons well, and has a sneaky but successful submission game. The questions that surround Grasso, particularly given her rematch with Shevchenko are whether or not her pressure-forward style is replicable for 5 rounds without absorbing counters or being forced back. Additionally, whether Grasso’s 61% takedown defense and standup to the high-level wrestling of “Bullet.”

Shevchenko lost for only the 4th time and for the first time since 2017 when she tapped to a “face crank” submission back in March. Prior to that loss, Shevchenko was thought, by many, to be unbeatable against anyone not named Amanda Nunes. Her striking is elite, her wrestling extremely effective, and her speed, accuracy, cardio, mindset, and game plan and are all exceptional Shevchenko is a future hall of famer and one of the best to ever fight. Her positive attributes and abilities are well-known and documented. So, the more interesting and valuable analysis surrounds the very few negatives in her game. The only real concern is her age and tenure in MMA. At 35, Shevchenko is likely out of her prime and more prone to mistakes, like we saw in her first matchup against Grasso.

Considering so much of her game has been rooted in technique and strategy, even at an older age Shevchenko is extremely dangerous in the cage. But, if she does make a mistake, she has struggled to react and reverse the mistake as quickly or effectively as she did in her prime. We saw Shevchenko controlled on the mat and nearly beat 2 fights ago because her reactions to takedowns were a touch slow and her ability to get up from bottom position was less prominent. The same happened in “Bullet’s” fight with Grasso. While Shevchenko was likely winning the fight, she made one mistake, was unable to correct it fast enough, and lost the belt. At this level, even the smallest mistakes can result in losses; and, at 35, those mistakes have a higher chance of happening than when Valentina was in her prime.

With rematches becoming more common, handicappers are in a unique situation with analysis. On one hand, we have recent and relevant evidence for how these two fighters match up. On the other hand, the fighters have access to the same tape and can make significant changes in their approach, strategy, and game plan. So, while analysis is, in theory, more accurate, we must also leave space for a fighter coming in with major changes. Looking at the first fight, Shevchenko was very likely up 2 rounds to 1 entering the 4th. Round 1 was very close, Shevchenko only landing 2 more significant strikes than Grasso and Grasso technically getting :12 of control time without a takedown.

Then, Shevchenko pulled away with a similar successful wrestling and control time in rounds 2 and 3. But, in round 4, that offensive wrestling ending up being the reason she lost as Grasso was able to end up on top and get the submission win. Going into this fight, I expect Shevchenko to fight more passively. She lost via submission, in part, because she made a mistake. Grasso capitalized on that mistake; but, until that moment, Shevchenko was in control. So, I expect Valentina to do her best to avoid another catastrophic mistake. Meanwhile, I expect Grasso to increase her aggression and wrestling. On the feet, Grasso held her own but Shevchenko was a step ahead in accuracy and speed.

So, the bottom line for this fight, comes down to whether or not Grasso can successfully implement the game plan I’m predicting she’ll take: aggressive pressure and a larger focus on grappling. If that is, in fact, how this rematch goes, I think the fight will end up going to a decision. With Shevchenko being more cautious and Grasso trying to wrestle, which should end up in long clinch exchanges, I anticipate the clock draining and the judges making the final call.

Therefore, my best bet is over 4.5 rounds. However, for a pick on the winner, I’ll side with “and still.” I think, if the fight goes the way I broke down above, the forward pressure and clinch control of Grasso will be enough to sway the judges in a razor thin fight.

  • Best Bet: Over 4.5 rounds (-160 at BetUS)
  • Prediction: Grasso by decision (+350 at BetUS)

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