In the main event of Noche UFC at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Grasso (16-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) met Shevchenko (23-4-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC) in an immediate rematch for the women’s flyweight title. After five hard-fought, back-and-forth rounds, the judges couldn’t determine a winner. Two judges issued dueling 48-47 scores, while a third turned in a 47-47 score, resulting in a split draw.
The pro-Mexico crowd poured in various chants in the opening moments of the fight as the main eventers got the action started with their first striking exchanges. Shevchenko looked to mix things up with a takedown, but Grasso wasn’t having it. However, a few moments later, Shevchenko was successful in getting the fight to the canvas. Grasso nearly gave up her back, but scrambled back to her feet, prompting more chants from the crowd.
Shevchenko continued to lead the dance on the feet early in Round 2, but a takedown attempt was stuffed by Grasso. Shortly after the reset, Grasso connected with a hard right hand that sent Shevchenko down. Grasso rushed in to capitalize, but Shevchenko was able to grab hold to slow down the follow-up attacks.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 17, 2023
Grasso found space to connect with a few short strikes, but Shevchenko survived the scare and then completed a nice double leg. Grasso threatened a guillotine choke, but Shevchenko eventually worked free. Grasso landed a few nice strikes from bottom before the horn.
Shevchenko took Grasso down cleanly for the first big action of Round 3. She then quickly attacked the neck, jumping on a mounted guillotine attempt. Grasso remained calm, eventually causing Shevchenko to give up on the submission. Shevchenko then took Grasso’s back and controlled the position for the remainder of the round.
Grasso sprawled a takedown attempt nicely, and landed a few nice knees to the head while Shevchenko attempted to keep one hand on the mat. She then dumped Shevchenko to the mat and attacked an arm, but Shevchenko slipped out and the pair returned to trading strikes in the center of the cage. Shevchenko looked for a takedown with less than 30 seconds to go, but found herself defending a kneebar from Grasso.
With the fight appearing close going into the final round, someone needed to make a statement in the last five minutes.
Shevchenko worked behind a snappy jab and offered a higher volume as a bloody Grasso stalked. Shevchenko went for a headlock takedown, but Grasso slipped off in the reversal and took her back. Big punches were rained down by Grasso. She then locked in a body triangle and went for a rear naked choke. Shevchenko didn’t tap, but she also couldn’t get Grasso off her back before the final horn.
After an incredible 25 minutes, the only thing left to do was to determine the winner – except there would not be one on the evening as Bruce Buffer announced the split draw.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 17, 2023
“I was very close all of the time, just doing a lot of damage,” Grasso told Daniel Cormier during her post-fight interview. “I know I was trying to submit, and I think I did enough.”
Shevchenko, however, was a little more blunt in her opinion about the result of the fight.
“I think it was 3-2 on my side, but judges I think felt a little bit like pressure because it’s kind of like Mexican Independence Day,” Shevchenko told Cormier. “That’s why I think they give one more to the Mexican fighter.
… I fought to the end, and I think I did enough. In a fair fight, in a fair competition, victory would be mine.”
The pair first met at UFC 285 in March, where Grasso pulled off one one the biggest upsets of the year by submitting Shevchenko in Round 4. The result prompted an immediate rematch. With the second meeting resulting in a draw, perhaps a third meeting will be on the horizon.
Full Noche UFC results include:
- Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko ends in split draw (48-47, 47-48, 47-47)
- Jack Della Maddalena def. Kevin Holland via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Raul Rosas Jr. def. Terrence Mitchell via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:54
- Daniel Zellhuber def. Christos Giagos via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 2, 3:26
- Kyle Nelson def. Fernando Padilla via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Loopy Godinez def. Elise Reed via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:38
- Roman Kopylov def. Josh Fremd via TKO (body punch) – Round 2, 4:44
- Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda declared no contest (referee stoppage overturned) – Round 1, 3:47
- Tracy Cortez def. Jasmine Jasudavicius via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Charlie Campbell def. Alex Reyes via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:38
- Josefine Knutsson def. Marnic Mann via unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-27)
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Noche UFC.