UFC Fight Night takes place on Saturday to celebrate Mexican Independence Day and the headline event is a women's flyweight title bout between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko.
Shevchenko is the GOAT in this division, but she had her streak of seven consecutive successful title defenses snapped in March when Grasso upset her as a +500 underdog. Shevchenko will get an immediate rematch for the championship but the UFC betting odds are much closer this time with Grasso at +140 and Shevchenko priced at -166.
Here are my best free UFC Fight Night: Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 picks and predictions for September 16.
Grasso vs Shevchenko fight odds
Grasso vs Shevchenko method of victory odds
|Method of Victory||Alexa Grasso||Valentina Shevchenko|
|To win by KO/TKO||+1,400||+380|
|To win by points||+360||+175|
|To win by submission||+430||+750|
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook on September 13, 2023.
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Grasso vs Shevchenko picks
Fight prediction: Shevchenko
It's fair to question if Valentina Shevchenko is slipping since she's 35 years old and has been fighting against the top MMA fighters in the world for almost a decade (not to mention another 59 pro fights as a kickboxer).
She barely took a split decision against Taila Santos prior to her title loss and it was clear that Alexa Grasso had the edge in the stand up. Shevchenko wasn't quite as fast in the boxing exchanges and when she was caught in a submission in the fourth round it was far from a fluke. That said, a few things from that fight do stand out in her favor.
Shevchenko had a tough time getting into a rhythm when the usually orthodox Grasso switched stances but she should be better prepared for Grasso to go southpaw this time around. Despite being thrown off by that southpaw stance, Shevchenko had an 87-59 edge in significant strikes and her striking accuracy of 60% dwarfed Grasso's 32% clip.
In addition, Shevchenko seemed to take control in the second and third rounds when she had four takedowns and controlled Grasso for more than five minutes on the mat. Grasso has struggled with her takedown defense in the past, which we saw against Maycee Barber and Carla Esparza.
As a former strawweight, Grasso isn't as strong as Shevchenko who used to compete at bantamweight, and if Bullet can rely on her offensive wrestling she should be able to win rounds. This should be another competitive bout but with a few adjustments, Shevchenko has more than enough tools to regain the belt and we're getting a much better moneyline price than before.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko moneyline (-160 at bet365)
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Fight best bet: Fight to go the distance
With eight career wins by KO/TKO and seven by submission, Shevchenko can certainly finish opponents. However, against fighters that are closer to her caliber, she tends to go the distance and eight of her 15 bouts in the UFC have gone to the judges' cards.
The previous bout between these two lasted until the final minute of the fourth round before Shevchenko was caught while attempting a spinning elbow and Grasso took her back while standing up. While Grasso also submitted Joanne Wood last year those are her only finishes in her last 10 victories.
Shevchenko is now aware of just how good Grasso is standing up which will lead to her being more cautious and avoiding throwing anything too wild. She'll likely use her offensive wrestling as much as possible to take Grasso down and drain time off the clock. That should lead to this fight going the distance.
Pick: Fight to go the distance (-122 at FanDuel)
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Grasso vs Shevchenko betting preview
Grasso is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world following her victory against Shevchenko earlier this year. Grasso had the advantage on the feet in that bout but Shevchenko used her offensive wrestling to control the second and third rounds. However, Shevchenko missed with a spinning elbow in the fourth round, allowing Grasso to take her back and submit her.
Grasso began her UFC career with a 3-3 record but has reeled off five wins in a row since moving up to 125 pounds. The 30-year-old has very impressive boxing ability with quick hands and tight striking defense. She uses volume, pressure, and cardio to wear down her opponents and typically wins by way of points.
Valentina "Bullet" Shevchenko had been on a nine-fight winning streak and had defended her belt seven times before getting upset by Grasso. Shevchenko has only two other defeats in the last 12 years and they both came in competitive bouts against the GOAT Amanda Nunes at bantamweight.
With a background in kickboxing and Muay Thai, Shevchenko is known for her elite speed, precision, and technical striking ability. However, she's also a very strong grappler with 22 takedowns over her last five fights, and seven career submission victories.
Grasso vs Shevchenko tale of the tape
|Alexa Grasso||Valentina Shevchenko|
|66 inches||Reach||66.5 inches|
|16-3 (4 KO)||Record||23-4 (8 KO)|
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