Alexa Grasso Makes History As First Mexican Female UFC Champion

alexa grasso

The popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) in recent years has snowballed. This full-contact sport burst into the scene in the late 20th century. It has since grown into one of the most-watched sports globally. 

Today, MMA boasts an audience of millions of fans across various continents. This sensational rise has catapulted the ultimate fighting championship (UFC) to the top of the global sports market. The American MMA organization is the world’s 8th most valuable sports brand. 

One of the most exciting parts of MMA is the thrilling moments and set of unexpected results. Determined fighters like Amanda Nunez, Robbie Lawler, and Frankie Edgar have given fans reasons to enjoy the league. Alexa Grasso is the latest mixed martial artist to spice up the MMA community.

This article will cover the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship match between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko on the 4th of March 2023. Grasso won the fight via submission, making her the first Mexican-born female UFC champion.

Who is Alexa Grasso?

Karen Alexa Grasso Montes is a popular name among UFC flyweight fans. She’s a Mexican mixed martial artist born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Grasso also works as a UFC analyst for the Spanish audience.  

The 29-year-old made her professional debut in 2012, enjoying a five-bout winning streak in her first 18 months. Many MMA fans saw Grasso as the next potential superstar after this impressive run. Following her record of 16 wins and 3 losses, it’s fair to say she’s lived up to the expectations. 

The Mexican martial artist spent her first eight years in the strawweight division from 2012 to 2020. She joined Invicta Fighting Championship in 2014 before signing with UFC (2016). Her determination in martial arts earned her a flyweight division promotion in 2020.

Grasso’s recent win against Valentina Shevchenko in UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship marked the peak of her career. She’s currently among the top female fighters in the world, and deservedly so. 

Sponsorship

Sponsorships present an excellent revenue generation and industry exposure opportunity for professional athletes. One can enjoy a significant income outside their salaries, which can help cover training and travel-related expenses. These deals allow the likes of Grasso to compete at the highest level. 

On the other hand, companies also benefit by building their brand awareness and marketing to a broader audience. They use the athletes’ influence to promote their products and generate more revenue.

Stake.com is one of the most popular brands sponsoring players in various sports today. Football, boxing, and Formula 1 athletes are among the primary beneficiaries of the company’s sponsorship deals. 

Alexa Grasso joined a slew of MMA superstars as a brand ambassador for the crypto sportsbook Stake.com in May 2021. The betting platform known for sponsoring Everton F.C. and Alfa Romeo in Formula 1 also sponsors MMA superstars Israel Adesanya, Glover Teixeira, and Jailton Almeida.

It’s worth noting that Ed Craven’s crypto-betting firm already serves as UFC’s official partner, a deal signed in 2021. Stake’s Public Relations Manager, Milan Jovancevic, termed it an “exciting partnership” given the possibilities it unlocks for both parties. 

READ MORE:  Magomed Ankalaev accuses the UFC of keeping Alex Pereira away from him: 'I will knock him out'

Grasso’s addition to the ambassadorial list will likely enhance that excitement further. The role of the Mexican in the agreement is to help strengthen UFC’s betting experience on Stake.com. She’ll work with his fellow MMA stars, including Marlon Vera.

Grasso’s MMA journey

As mentioned earlier, the UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion has been in the industry for about a decade. Grasso has competed in various events in her MMA career, spending most of her career in Invicta and UFC events. 

Here is a rundown of her journey since 2012:

Regional circuits

Alexa Grasso began her career fighting in regional circuits. She competed in four fights from December 2012 to August 2013 and won three by knockout (KO) and one by unanimous decision (UD). 

Her first recorded match was against Sandra Del Rincon in the Old Jack’s Fight Night event. Other events in Grasso’s portfolio include Fight Hard Championship (FHC) and Xtreme Kombat 20 (XK). 

Invicta Fighting Championship

Grasso took one year away from the sport after her last fight in the Xtreme Kombat event. Her return in September 2014 marked her IFC debut, where she competed against Ashley Cummins. 

The MMA superstar played in the championship for two years, with her final match coming in July 2016. It’s worth noting that she won four out of four IFC matches (three by UD and one by technical KO).  

Ultimate Fighting Championship

The Mexican joined other UFC stars in 2016, marking her entrance with a win against Hearth Clark in November. It was the 5th match she won via unanimous decision and the 9th consecutive win since 2012.

However, this impressive run ended when Grasso suffered her first career defeat in February 2017. It started a poor run lasting about 18 months, where she won 3 out of 6 UFC fights. 

But after those ups and downs, Grasso hit her stride with a five-bout winning streak. The fifth match of this joyous ride is the most recent title fight against Valentina Shevchenko. More on this later in the article.

The promotion from strawweight to flyweight

UFC has eight class titles for men and four for women. Here is a list of men’s weight divisions with their current champions:

  • Flyweight (Deiveson Figueredo)
  • Bantamweight (Aljamain Sterling)
  • Featherweight (Alexander Volkanovski)
  • Lightweight (Charles Oliveira)
  • Welterweight (Kamaru Usman)
  • Middleweight (Israel Adesanya, another Stake.com ambassador)
  • Light heavyweight (Glover Teixeira)
  • Heavyweight (Francis Nganou, also with Stake.com ties)

There is a super heavyweight division, but it’s not available in UFC’s title classes. On the other hand, female UFC stars compete in the following four divisions:

  • Strawweight (Rose Namajunas)
  • Flyweight (Alexa Grasso)
  • Bantamweight (Juliana Pena)
  • Featherweight (Amanda Nunes)

Alexa Grasso is the latest addition to that list following her victory against Valentina Shevchenko (the holder at the time).

The UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion fought in the lower division (strawweight) from 2016 to 2019. She was promoted to the flyweight class in 2020 and has won all four matches.

READ MORE:  Anthony Smith cultivates 'cool relationship' with Alex Pereira during UFC 303 fight week: 'We have no problem'

Alexa Grasso’s fight record

Grasso has been involved in 19 professional matches since her debut win in 2012. The following section overviews all the wins and losses throughout her career.

Grasso’s wins

Alexa has recorded 16 wins for the past decade, a winning rate of about 85%. She won 10 by UD, 4 through KO, and 2 by submission. Here is the complete list of the opponents she defeated:

  • Sandra del Rincon (regional circuit, 19th Dec 2012)

Rincon was Grasso’s first professional opponent at the GEX Old Jack’s Fight Night. Alexa Grasso won the match within the first round through a knockout. 

  • Lupita Hernandez (regional circuit, 11th May 2013)

Grasso’s second professional fight was at the Fight Hard Championship event. She knocked out Lupita Hernandez in the first round. 

  • Alejandra Alvarez (regional circuit, 31st Aug 2013)

This Xtreme Kombat 20 match lasted only 36 seconds, with Alexa Grasso knocking out her third opponent in a row. She won the fight through technical knockout. 

  • Karina Rodriguez (regional circuit, 31st Aug 2013)

Karina Rodriguez proved a tough opponent, forcing Grasso to the third round for the first time in her career. Nevertheless, Grasso still won her second Xtreme Kombat match of the day by UD. 

  • Ashley Cummins (IFC, 6th Sep 2014)

Grasso’s fifth professional fight was an IFC debut against Cummins. After three rounds, the Mexican won the IFC 8 event match by unanimous decision.

  • Alida Gray (IFC, 5th Dec 2014)

The match against Gray ended in the 107th minute, and Grasso won through a technical knockout.

  • Mizuki Inoue (IFC, 27th Feb 2015)

This Invicta FC 11 fight marked Grasso’s third win by unanimous decision.

  • Jodie Esquibel (IFC, 29th July 2016)

Jodie Esquibel was Alexa Grasso’s last opponent in the IFC. The Mexican record-breaker also won this by UD.

  • Heather Clark (UFC, 5th Nov 2016)

The win (UD) against Heather Clark at the UFC Fight Night marked Grasso’s first victory as a UFC star. 

  • Randa Markos (UFC, 5th Aug 2017)

The Mexican martial artist registered her second UFC win against Markos by a split decision.

  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC, 8th June 2019)

Kowalkiewicz fought in the UFC 238 event, and Grasso emerged victorious by UD. 

  • Ji Yeon Kim (UFC, 29th Aug 2020)

Grasso was expected to face Claudia Gadelha at UFC 246 in January 2020. However, the Mexican weighed 121.5 pounds, 5.5 pounds more than the strawweight limit. 

The officials canceled the match as Grasso weighed over 3 pounds more than her opponent. Following this development, Grasso declared that she’d be fighting at flyweight.

Her first match in the division was against Ji Yeon Kim, scheduled for June 2020. But the officials rescheduled it to August due to Covid-19 restrictions. Grasso won the match via unanimous decision. 

  • Maycee Barber (UFC, 13th Feb 2021)

Maycee Barber was Grasso’s second flyweight opponent. Alexa Grasso won the match by unanimous decision. 

  • Joanne Wood (UFC, 26th Mar 2022)

This fight was scheduled for November 2021, but Grasso pulled out due to an injury. She also pulled out of a match against Viviane Araujo in January 2022 before her initial fight was rescheduled to March 2022.

READ MORE:  Conor McGregor claims fight with Michael Chandler 'for sure' happening in 2024 after meeting with Dana White

Alexa Grasso won against Joanne Wood by submission. It was the first time the Mexican had claimed victory through this route.

  • Viviane Araujo (UFC, 15th Oct 2022)

This match was a rescheduled program of the January-2022 fight, and Grasso won via unanimous decision.

  • Valentina Shevchenko (UFC, 4th Mar 2023)

Grasso faced Valentina Shevchenko, Kyrgyzstani, at UFC 285 in her first ever title fight. This performance was Grasso’s first of the Night bonus award, and she made it count. 

The Mexican had won her four previous matches beating Araujo, Wood, Barder, and Kim. On the other hand, Shevchenko held a nine-bout winning streak, eight of which were title fights.

The UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship match began with Grasso making a statement in the early seconds. She threw a few brutal punches that proved menacing to the Kyrgyzstani. Taking such control of the match in the early stages surprised many fans who viewed her as the underdog. 

Shevchenko wobbled in the first round following Grasso’s three-punch combination. But she came back strong in the following rounds, taking down the Mexican twice. 

Alexa Grasso’s training paid off in the fourth round. She capitalized on Shevchenko’s spinning back kick and got the rear-naked choke, which forced the holding champion to submit. 

Grasso said during the post-match interview that she studied Valentina Shevchenko’s daily while training. This training helped her anticipate the Kyrgyzstani’s spinning back and win the match. 

The result broke several MMA records, including Grasso’s achievement as the first Mexican-born female UFC champion. It was also just the second time Grasso won a fight by submission.

Amazingly enough, it was Shevchenko’s first time losing a match by submission. Many onlookers were also surprised.

Grasso’s losses

Alexa Grasso’s career has had a few bumps despite all the success. She’s suffered three losses, all in the UFC’s strawweight division. 

  • Felice Herig (UFC, 5th Feb 2017)

Grasso’s loss to Felice Herig was her second UFC Fight Night match. It was a closely contested match, but the judges unanimously scored it in favor of Herig. 

  • Tatiana Suarez (UFC, 19th May 2018)

Tatian Suarez handed Grasso her second defeat in 15 months at the UFC Night Fight. She lost by submission at the 164th minute. 

  • Carla Esparza (UFC, 22nd Sep 2019)

Grasso’s third defeat also came at the UFC Night Fight against Esparza. The loss was through a majority decision.

Conclusion

Based on her performances, Alexa Grasso is among the best female UFC fighters today. In the past decade, the Stake.com ambassador’s determination has seen her win 16 out of 19 fights.  She won the opening nine matches of her career before suffering her first defeat at the UFC Fight Night. 

The period between 2017 and 2019 proved challenging for Grasso. But her recent record-breaking victory against Valentina Shevchenko raised her status in the MMA community. She became the first Mexican woman to win a UFC championship, and doing that against a 7-time championship winner was impressive. Of course, fans expect to see more of these performances in her future fights.