Noche UFC: Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 Review (17/09/2023)
By Mick Robson
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I typically stick to just reviewing numbered UFC events, but this particular Fight Night has a major title fight on it, as Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko run it back for the UFC Women's Flyweight title. And in the co-main, we've got Aussie representation in a featured welterweight bout, as surging Perth fighter Jack Della Maddalena takes on the popular Kevin Holland.
Also, this event has the branding of "Noche UFC" to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. I'm not well versed on the history of this, but the card is littered with Mexican fighters/fighters of Mexican descent, including the champion Grasso. As we get started with the fights, it's a rowdy crowd that seems to be populated heavily by Mexicans as well, making for a fun atmosphere.
Let's do this!
Fight 1: (W-115) Josefine Knutsson def. Marnic Mann via unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-27)
Thoughts: So we've got a judge tonight that refused to hand out 10-8 rounds, because this was total dominaton. Knutsson, making her UFC debut, is a decorated striker, and Mann- taking the fight on short notice, dove for takedowns in the early going like her life depended on it. Knutsson was able to get top position off a judo trip attempt, and showed commendable top position control as she rained down ground and pound. The commentary team were somewhat critical of her not getting the finish as a heavy favourite, but Mann was tough as Knutsson was relentless with her attack over 15 minutes.
Fight 2: (155) Charlie Campbell def. Alex Reyes via TKO (punches) at 3:38 of R1
Thoughts: This was an extremely impressive performance by the debuting Campbell! He rocked Reyes early, and kept the pressure on without rushing, being aware of the danger that Reyes could present. He continued to land punches at will and pick the right moments. After drawing some blood with a spinning back fist, a follow up right hand soon dropped Reyes and ended his night.
Post-fight, Campbell hit DC with a "It doesn't matter what you think!", momentarily flooring Cormier, but after he followed up with "shout out to The Rock", he showed some appreciation for the WWE reference. Very timely considering The Rock's WWE return yesterday.
Fight 3: (W- 125) Tracy Cortez def. Jasmine Jasudavicius via UD (30-27 X 2, 29-28)
Thoughts: This was a very entertaining, competitive battle. Jasudavicius kept coming forward like the Terminator, but Cortez was all about the speed, accuracy, and impressive power with the hands. Midway through the second, Jasudavicius made it a tougher grind by getting some takedowns, but Cortez kept getting up and eventually preventing the takedown attempts while continuing to crack. The crowd roared their approval, and Cortez got the nod due to her vastly improved striking game.
Fight 4: (125) Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda ends in a No Contest (referee error) at 3:47 of R1
Thoughts: This was a mess. Both men looked sharp early with the striking, then Lacerda changed things up with a takedown. Chairez worked his way back up and went for an anaconda choke- and referee Chris Tognoni waved off the fight, incorrectly believing Lacerda to be out. The Fight Pass broadcast did catch him admitting to Lacerda that he made a mistake.
Fight 5: (185) Roman Kopylov def. Josh Fremd via KO (body punch) at 4:44 of R2
Thoughts: Brutal display by Kopylov. The first round was competitive until the final seconds, where Kopylov hit a spinning back fist and an uppercut that busted Fremd up, causing his nose to spew blood. Shoutout to Jon Anik, who responded to Cruz & DC's speculation that the nose might be broken with a dry, "good read, fellas". Kopylov kept the attack up, but it was ultimately a body attack that finished it, with a harsh body kick that almost made Fremd drop, and a crushing hook to the liver that finished the job. Excellent display of skill and violence on short notice.
Fight 6: (W-115) Loopy Godinez def. Elise Redd via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:38 of R2
Thoughts: Complete domination by Godinez. A huge punch sent Reed flying across the Octagon to the floor, and Loopy proceeed to relentlessly attack with submissions, including an armbar that seemed all the way in, but Reed showed Tony Ferguson levels of toughness to survive. In the second, Godinez rocked Reed with punches, hit a huge slam takedown, and put her away with the RNC soon after. Loopy looked like a world champion with this level of performance!
Fight 1: (145) Kyle Nelson def. Fernando Padilla via UD (29-28 X 2, 30-27)
Thoughts: The pro-Mexican crowd are booing, which is pretty classless. Not a bad decision at all, although I don't know about 30-27. Padilla was sharp in R1, busting Nelson up with punches and elbows, but Nelson turned up the heat in R2 and R3, taking the fight to Padilla with looping punches and hard kicks, stifling any return offense. Not a barnburner of a fight, but certainly not dull either.
Fight 2: (155) Daniel Zellhuber def. Christos Giagos via submission (anaconda choke) at 3:26 of R2
Thoughts: Giagos had a great first round, stunning Zellhuber early with some big strikes. The right hook was money and kept landing. In the second, Zellhuber was a bit better defensively by upping his own offense, landing a nice right hand that made Giagos shoot for a takedown, and Zellhuber snatched up the anaconda quick. Impressive finish in a fight that he seemed a step behind in.
Fight 3: (135) Raul Rosas Jr. def. Terrence Mitchell via TKO (punches) at 0:54 of R1
Thoughts: It started wild and fast and didn't last very long. Rosas Jr almost flatlined Mitchell with one punch, but he survived long enough to get mounted and ground and pounded into oblivion. Statement performance, bouncing back after his first career loss.
Fight 4: (170) Jack Della Maddalena def. Kevin Holland via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Thoughts: This was a tactical striking battle that was quite close, as the scorecards showed. Maddelena stuck predominantly to attacking the body and head with punches, while Holland mixed in some front kicks alongside his punches to stop the forward momentum of the Perth native. No grappling to speak of, but the heat didn't really pick up in the striking either, save for a slight uptick in intensity in the last 30 seconds or so. Big name ticked off the record for the Aussie. Crowd didn't love it, but a win is a win.
Main Event: UFC Women's Flyweight Championship- Alexa Grasso (c) vs. Valentina Shevcheko ends in a Split Draw (48-47 Grasso, 48-47 Shevchenko, 47-47)
Thoughts: This was a razor close fight. Shevchenko had the edge for the most part with the grappling, Grasso dropped Shevchenko in the 2nd with a big punch but there's a quick recovery, in the 3rd Shevchenko comes close with a gullotine. High drama in the final round as the fight ends with Grasso claiming Shevchenko's back in almost a mirror image of the first fight, although Shevchenko makes it to the final horn.
Post-fight, a frustrated Shevchenko blames the draw on it being Mexican Independence Day, drawing boos from the crowd, and believes that "in a fair fight", she won. The commentary team go through the scorecards on-air, revealing that judge Mike Bell gave Grasso a 10-8 for the final round, which does feel a bit ridiculous- Shevchenko seemed ahead before the slip that caused her back to be taken for the last minute and a half in R5.
A great fight, but the scoring feels controversial and maybe there's a little credibility to Shevchenko's sour grapes. Much will be discussed about it in the week to come, to be sure.
Until next time, keep killing it as always!