Alexa Grasso showed Saturday she has fully settled in as a flyweight, winning her fourth fight in a row since bulking up from strawweight two years ago. Her conquest in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas came by unanimous decision against a fellow top-10 contender in the 125-pound division, Viviane Araujo.
Grasso (15-3), who is 29 and from Mexico, built up a significant edge in striking output over the five rounds. But her best work might have been in her defensive wrestling — stuffing eight of Araujo’s 10 takedown attempts. That kept the fight on the feet for all but a two-minute stretch in Round 2, enabling Grasso to stay busy with punches and kicks. She landed 193 strikes to Araujo’s 148.
Neither woman put the other in serious trouble, but Grasso led the dance by mostly keeping the bout at a distance where she could best utilize her stand-up skills. All three judges scored the main event her way, turning in cards of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46. But it was far from a runaway.
“She’s a tough warrior,” Grasso said of Araujo (11-4), a 33-year-old Brazilian fighter who is No. 9 in the ESPN women’s flyweight rankings. “She’s a tough opponent, as you can see.”
Among 125-pounders, only champion Valentina Shevchenko has a longer active winning streak than the eighth-ranked Grasso. But Grasso’s time with the division’s second longest run of success is likely to be short-lived, as two other top-10 flyweights on four-fight winning streaks, Katlyn Chookagian and Manon Fiorot, are slated to meet next weekend at UFC 280.
Saturday’s fight card at the UFC Apex was scheduled to have a second matchup of top-10 flyweights — in the men’s 125-pound division. But Askar Askarov, who is ranked eighth by ESPN, was pulled from his bout with No. 9-ranked Brandon Royval on Friday because of what the UFC termed “weight management issues.”