Valentina Shevchenko’s title reign has come to an end.
The coats are held no more dominantly than the way Shevchenko has handled the Flyweight Division for the past five years. She didn’t finish every opponent, but Shevchenko rarely lost a set en route to defending her title last year against Taila Santos – that’s when the cracks started to show.
Shevchenko won this fight even though it didn’t look like she fought her best. After all, Shevchenko repeatedly gave up bad positions for the headlock throw. It was a tactical error, not necessarily a sign of decline. That fight alone shouldn’t have shaken confidence in ‘Bullet’, and based on the betting odds ahead of her clash with Alexa Grasso at UFC 285 last night (Saturday March 4, 2023), it doesn’t. is not the case.
There were other factors that should have been considered. For one thing, Shevchenko is 34 years old. That’s not young for a flyweight, regardless of gender, and Shevchenko has been a combat sports athlete her entire life. Even considering she was winning a lot more often than not, that’s a lot of wear and tear on the body.
In addition, the division is catching up.
Santos is a better world than a former challenger like Jessica Eye, and Grasso literally grew up inside the Octagon. She’s gone from Strawweight prospect and Flyweight contender, and she has the advantage of following the target on Shevchenko’s back the whole time.
Shevchenko suffered the champion’s burden last night. Grasso came out like a Southpaw, a look she had never given before, a look Shevchenko could not expect. Aggressively attack back and rear naked choke (watch highlights)? It’s also a whole new form for the Mexican champion. Conversely, Grasso entered the fight fully composed to take advantage of all of Shevchenko’s favorite habits, the tools that won and defended his throne.
Truly, it’s a credit to Shevchenko’s talent and work ethic that she held the title for so long and the new champion was forced to fight tooth and nail for her belt. Her reactions and general speed decreased, but she was still able to regain control under her control with the force of a stiff kick and power grabs.
Her best wasn’t enough last night.
Grasso capitalized on the moment she has built for her entire career and executed a perfect streak. Shevchenko loses her crown and historically is extremely unlikely to get it back. Even though she arrives better prepared to fight a Southpaw and prevent the rear grab, the stats do not favor older athletes in rematches.
Shevchenko is a special fighter, so maybe she can turn things around. More likely, UFC 285 will go down in history as the point where Shevchenko slowed down just enough, his division caught up, and Grasso played masterfully – the point where three factors combined to end the game for good. the Shevchenko era.
For full UFC 285 results: “Jones vs. Gane” and game-by-game, click HERE.
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