LAS VEGAS–Mexican fighter Alexa Grasso celebrated her nation’s independence day in unusual fashion, holding on to her UFC flyweight title after fighting to a seldom-seen split draw against former champion Valentina Shevchenko on Saturday.
Grasso, who beat Shevchenko by submission in March to win the title, topped the card at the T-Mobile Arena at the Noche UFC event, which had a strong Mexican flavor due to it taking place on Sept. 16, the day Mexicans celebrate their independence.
Both fighters had their moments over the five five-minute rounds but neither could force a stoppage, and the judges’ scorecards produced a surprise with one giving it to Grasso, another to Shevchenko and the third scoring it as a draw, meaning that Grasso held on to her belt.
WHAT. A. FIGHT.
— UFC (@ufc) September 17, 2023
Shevchenko said she thought she won the fight three rounds to two and that the Mexican celebration may have influenced the scoring.
“The judges, I think, felt a little bit of pressure because it’s Mexican Independence Day, that’s why they give one more (round) to the Mexican fighter,” the Kyrgistani former champ said in a post-fight interview.
“I fought to the end and I think I did enough. In a fair competition, the victory would be mine.”
Unsurprisingly, Grasso disagreed.
“I did a lot of damage … all of my punches were hard, and yes, I’m the winner. I think I did enough,” the 30-year-old from Guadalajara said.
The close nature of the fight has already led to calls from fans for a third match, but Grasso was non-committal when asked about that prospect.
“It depends,” she said. “I have to talk to my coaches and my manager. Let’s see what’s next.”
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