Staff Predictions: Alexa Grasso vs. Viviane Araujo | UFC Fight Night 212
This weekend’s UFC main event is a women’s flyweight battle between Alexa Grasso and Viviane Araujo.
Grasso vs. Araujo will take place during the UFC Fight Night 212 event at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, as part of a 12-bout fight card just one weekend before the UFC heads to Abu Dhabi with a stacked UFC 280 card.
Grasso is currently ranked #5 at flyweight and will essentially be defending her spot against the #6 ranked Araujo. Just as we do for every UFC main event, we’ve compiled our full staff predictions here in one article, together with the latest betting odds.
Come back next week for our UFC 280 fight predictions for Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev, Aljamain Sterlin vs. TJ Dillashaw, Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley, and more.
Grasso’s a decent favorite ahead of the UFC Fight Night 212 main event this weekend.
This fight should be competitive; both women are scrappy and durable and will be there in the fight for the long run. In a technical sense, Grasso is the sharper fighter, she tends to lean heavily on her boxing and constantly evolves her game. She will be the faster fighter and will have to lean on quick reflexes and her superior footwork to avoid the power bursts from Araujo and then make the most of her accuracy in order to punish those bursts. Araujo is always dangerous, and while Grasso is the quicker technician, if they end up exchanging in any sort of brawl scenario, Araujo does have the power advantage.
It is also notable that although the two will share a height of 5’5 and a similar frame, Grasso has fought most of her UFC career at strawweight while Araujo made her debut at bantamweight. The two will meet in the middle at flyweight, although both have fought for a while and are comfortable here, this does lend itself well to Araujo, who already should have a grappling advantage on paper. That being said, it is Grasso who has made the larger leaps in her grappling game in recent fights, specifically the addition of her first submission victory in March and a focus on rounding out her game in the preceding camp. I do think that prolonged grappling exchanges will favor Araujo but I think that Grasso’s scrambling ability and improvements will allow her to find some control in clinches and get back to her feet when she really needs to.
For both women, this will be the first five-round fight in their careers. While we have seen both tire at times, Grasso in the third round against Maycee Barber seemed to slow, Araujo tends to fade a bit more. This will be a major test for both at this poin, but with Grasso typically absorbing less shots and with a higher striking defense I do think she will be coming into the latter rounds less damaged. In order to get to this point though, once again it will be all about the scrambling and footwork, to avoid the striking bursts and takedowns, and making those counter opportunities count.
Prediction: Alexa Grasso to win (-230 favorite at BetUS)
Alexa Grasso is a Mexican-born flyweight currently ranked #5 in the division. Grasso embodies the essence of the Mexican style striking: tough, high output, and highly technical. Grasso is unafraid to get into a brawl, showing and ability to eat a shot and return a combination. But, she is also capable of winning a technically sound range point fight where fundamentals and precision are the foundation for success. In either type of fight, Grasso has the boxing acumen to slug or stick’n move her way to victory. Beyond being a high-level boxer, what makes Grasso such a good mixed martial artist is her sneaky wrestling game. While Grasso’s skill on the feet justifiably gets focused on the most, she’s consistently shown an ability to stuff takedown attempts and even get a few of her own when the opportunity calls for it. Grasso’s wider boxing base allows for her to keep her center of gravity low and allows her to create a strong base when defending a takedown. Meanwhile, because of Grasso’s high volume and lateral movement on the feet, opponents are often concerned with and focused on hitting a moving target while avoiding Grasso’s volume that they open themselves up for takedowns. Grasso has shown a high fight IQ with well-setup and well-timed shots, typically near the end of a round. By mixing in wrestling, Grasso can win close rounds with a late takedown and force her opponents into thinking about more than just her boxing. Despite her high intelligence and fundamentally sound game, Grasso does have flaws, namely, her lack of finishing ability. Professionally, Grasso has only finished 5 of her 14 wins, only 1 of which has come in the UFC. While Grasso’s boxing is crisp, it lacks power. Her hands tend to hit but don’t always stick. Her lack of finishing ability, namely power on the feet, opens the door for opponents to win rounds with lower volume and more damage and prolongs the fight, which leaves the door open for a late rally. Think Leon v Usman. Grasso has the IQ, cardio, and fundamentals to piece up an opponent for 25 minutes, but she needs to be focused for all five rounds because it’s unlikely the fight ends early with Grasso winning.
The polar opposite of the #5 ranked flyweight is the #6 ranked flyweight, Viviane “Vivi” Araujo. Araujo is a powerhouse athlete with basic but heavy striking, high-level jiu-jitsu, and a gas tank that often depletes after only a round or two. Despite her powerful hands and slick grappling, Araujo does share one surprising commonality with Grasso, she, too only has one finish in the UFC. Despite only having that one finish, Araujo is seen, accurately so, as a finisher. When striking, Araujo is often the fighter moving forward, striking in combination and with aggression. She mixes in both punches and kicks, often ending a combination with a powerful head kick attempt or a takedown attempt. Araujo is adept at shooting takedown attempts after backing her opponent into the cage with a flurry of strikes. Her ability to string striking with grappling together speaks to her fundamental game but also indicates why she is seen as a dangerous finisher. Araujo has the power to drop and opponent while standing; but, even if her combination does not land with the intended damage, she often has a prime opportunity to get the fight down to her world. Once on the mat, Araujo has a good sub game and sharp elbows in ground and pound. She is able to control opponents well, holding her weight high and securing position while inflicting damage or looking for the finish. The biggest issue in Araujo’s game is her cardio. Even in 3 round fights, Araujo has been unreliable in pushing through to the end of a fight with the same output and aggression as in the early rounds. Instead, she’ll regularly slow down, her combinations will be taxed, her grappling less effective, and her defense porous. In a recent fight against a high-output and technical striker with high-level cardio, Araujo slowed as the fight went on and clearly lost a decision because of an inability to win later in rounds.
I anticipate this fight being very close. Grasso will outwork and outland Araujo, especially at range, and Grasso has the style and cardio to implement her game plan for 25 minutes. However, Grasso will likely not inflict the most damage. Araujo will land the more damaging strikes and have the higher chance of a finish. So, my preferred way to bet this fight is with a hedge. I’d play Grasso by decision and Araujo by sub, this hedge covers both of the highest likelihood paths to victory. However, as a straight play, I lean Araujo. Her only real concern is cardio; and, if she can pace herself better, should be the more successful woman. Even if Araujo wins the first three rounds and gasses out, she should still win a 48-47 decision.
Pick: Viviane Araujo to win (+180 underdog at BetUS)
Since making the move to flyweight, Alexa Grasso is on a 3 fight win streak and has looked fantastic along the way. Moreover, at 29 years old with 17 professional fighters under her belt, she is just now entering her prime as a fighter, and this, parlayed with the historical display of elite skill she has shown in her younger years, leaves many believing she is a legitimate contender to take the belt away from arguable GOAT, Valentina Shevchenko.
Knowing there are people in the community believing she can legitimately contend for the belt, and likely will with a win in this spot, it comes to little surprise to note that Grasso is a well-rounded mixed martial artist with sprinkles of eliteness throughout her game. The greatest value disparity Grasso has when facing her opponent is in the striking department, as she has extremely crisp and technical boxing. While the boxing is less powerful than other contenders in this division, coming to little surprise knowing she was originally a strawweight contender, she often has the speed and technique advantage which allows her to slowly create separation on the judges’ scorecards.
Often, for a predominate boxer, there are several potential holes in their game. The two notable are getting the lead leg kicked given the importance of having a stable balance with throwing boxing-oriented strikes as well as getting taken down to the mat. For the former, Grasso does a good job remaining cognitively aware of needing fluid movement to negate having a heavy lead leg easily kicked. For the latter, she is improving her grappling fight-over-fight, to now, actually having above-average offensive wrestling with the ability to create good scrambles if a takedown attempt is taken against her.
So, she truly has a well-rounded game with little to no identifiable flaws beyond the difficulty of finishing fights. While this flaw is indeed mild, the reliance on winning close exchanges and/or needing to slowly chip away as the fight ensues does present opportunities for her opponent to steal a round or two, and then, may lose a close decision fight.
Reliance on a decision is something Viviane Araujo is not accustomed to needing early in her fight career, but, when facing elite of the elite contenders, she too has gone to the scorecards far more often than one would presume for her. This presumption is due to Araujo being one of the most dangerous women on the roster, being able to finish the fight at any moment from any position. The natural gifts she possesses merged with tenacity and an affinity for violence nets a recipe to inflict damage in nearly every one of her fights.
The ability to be dangerous is an immense asset, particularly for women’s MMA where many rely on technique and speed over fight finishing mentality. While Araujo is an incredible fighter in her own regard with technique and speed, coupled with this additive sprinkle of elite danger, the inherent detriment is gassing out from the desire to find a finish. Having cardio concerns is accustomed for types of fighters that want to end the night before the scheduled duration, so while not too surprising, it is notable when fighting someone as technically sound from a defensive lens as Grasso is. Luckily, for Araujo, or more so intelligently, Araujo has shown improvement with pacing her explosive movements in the octagon, and she will need to continue improvement given this fight is a 5-round affair. If successfully done, she has more than enough skills to win, and even win by decision.
When forecasting Araujo’s fights, I often look to see if she can impose her will and physical dominance on her opponent. If she can, I confidently take her, if she can’t, then I look to if her cardio will last long enough to win a tiring decision.
With this methodology set, I believe the ability to sizably overwhelm Grasso with power, speed, and strong grappling will not come to fruition – this does not mean Araujo cannot decisively win moments, just means the skills are on par with one another. So, looking at the next stage, cardio, I do not believe Araujo will be able to fight her traditional violent way over a full 25 minutes. Because of this, she will likely either look to go all or nothing early, or look to cautiously fight, with cardio at the forefront of her mind from the start. Given I do not know which gameplan she will elect, I will simply choose the fighter with much fewer question marks given I trust Grasso’s cardio, technical striking, and underrated grappling.
Bet: Alexa Grasso to win by decision (-230 favorite at BetUS)
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.