Alexa Grasso shook up the UFC flyweight division with a fourth-round submission victory over Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 285 in the night’s co-main event.
While the upset arguably changed the trajectory of the division, it begged the question from many fight fans about whether the March 4 title fight should be run back right away. Shevchenko was arguably ahead entering round four before the tables turned, which led to the eventual outcome. The victory earned Grasso the new and distinct title of becoming the first female Mexican-born UFC champion.
According to MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani, the long-time MMA journalist believes that it may not be in the UFC’s best interest to do an immediate rematch:
“I was thinking about this… I don’t know. I actually feel like they shouldn’t do an immediate rematch,” Helwani said. “(But) they’re going to. I wonder if we should learn a lesson from the Julianna Peña – Amanda Nunes fight, where it’s like, alright, we have this incredible moment, you run it back, she loses, and it almost feels like that moment never happened anymore. You know what I mean?”
Regardless of Helwani’s position, he understands the thought process for why the UFC could be leaning towards an immediate rematch, given Shevchenko’s dominance.
“She (Shevchenko) deserves it, 1,000%… I feel like it’s incredibly disrespectful to Valentina to now make that decision,” he said. “Historically, you have a long title reign, you’ve earned that shot. But now that I’ve started to see this, and I’m like — it’s really the Peña moment… I hate to put this rule into place now, but there’s a part of me that feels with the Peña thing, they kinda ruined that. They could have had a run with Peña and they just went right back to the well… It’s a little unimaginative to just keep doing the immediate rematches.”
Quotes transcribed via MMA News.
Unimaginative or not, the Shevchenko upset likely puts a potential trilogy with Amanda Nunes to bed, as ‘The Lioness’ recently regained her bantamweight title from Julianna Peña in July 2022.
Is Ariel Helwani right about Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 not being the best business move? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, Penn Nation!