- What: UFC on ESPN+ 85
- Who: Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2
- Date: Saturday, September 16, 2023
- Location: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV
- Time: Prelims (7:00 p.m. ET) Main Card (10:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Prelims (ESPN+), Main Card (ESPN+)
Current UFC women’s flyweight champion Alexa Grasso makes the first defense of her title on a UFC Fight Night card the promotion has labeled Noche UFC, in honor of Mexican Independence Day. Grasso faces the woman she took the title from, Valentina Shevchenko, on Saturday, September 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Here is some information on the Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 scrap before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC on ESPN+ 85 fight card.
Alexa Grasso (16-3) was a significant betting underdog when she faced Shevchenko in March, checking in at +600 on fight night. Despite those long odds, Grasso picked up the submission win, capturing the UFC women’s flyweight title and extending her winning streak to five straight.
Valentina Shevchenko (23-4) was a massive -850 betting favorite in her first matchup opposite Grasso. Her loss in that contest ended a nine-fight winning streak that began in 2018 and included seven defenses of the 125-pound title. Before her loss to Grasso, Amanda Nunes was the only UFC fighter to beat Shevchenko.
UFC on ESPN+ 85 main event: Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2 betting picks
|To Win UFC Women's Flyweight Title|
UFC on ESPN+ 85 main event: Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2 betting breakdown
The first thing that needs to be noted about this rematch is that when the first fight between Grasso and Shevchenko ended at 4:34 of the fourth round, Shevchenko was ahead on all three judge’s scorecards 29-28. The judges all awarded Grasso the first round, while Shevchenko took rounds two and three. The only round of the four that was close statistically was the first round, where Shevchenko landed 26 significant strikes to Grasso’s 24.
Throughout her UFC career, Grasso has established herself as a good boxer, while Shevchenko is more of an all-around MMA fighter who doesn’t rely on one aspect of the fight game to get victories. In order to beat Shevchenko, Grasso must establish her striking range and land more heavy shots. She was active in the first fight, attempting 181 significant strikes, but she was not accurate, landing only 32 percent of those attempts. In the second round her, landing percentage was an abysmal 19 percent. She also needs to be prepared for the takedowns of Shevchenko. In the first fight, Shevchenko was four-for-six in takedown attempts and picked up 5:24 of control time.
As for Shevchenko, she needs to be more controlled. Her affinity for spinning techniques cost her the first fight. She cannot put herself in a situation where she is off balance or defensively unsound. She also needs to improve the setups for her takedown attempts.
UFC on ESPN+ 85 main event: Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2: What to watch
The first fight between Grasso and Shevchenko gives both these women something to build on and a list of improvements they can make. When it comes to which fighter can make more improvements, Shevchenko gets the nod. The adjustments the former champ needs to make are subtractions more than additions. She needs to be more aggressive in her kicking game but more basic in those attacks, going to the body and fighting at range with her kicks without incorporating risky spinning techniques. She also needs to be less obvious with her takedowns.
As for the current champ, Grasso needs to close distance more effectively. She cannot rely on being a counterstriker, and she must land more significant strikes than she did in the first fight. The fact that she is more limited in her MMA skills than Shevchenko gives the ex-champ’s team the advantage in training for the rematch because they have a good idea of what changes Grasso won’t make heading into this rematch.
Best Bets: UFC on ESPN+ 85 main event: Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2
The first thing to notice about the betting odds in the rematch between Grasso and Shevchenko is the betting value the ex-champ brings into the fight. Where Shevchenko was a healthy favorite in the first fight, she is only a slight favorite in the rematch, despite the fact she was winning on the scorecards when the contest ended in March. That’s a positive heading into Saturday because Shevchenko is the betting pick to pick up the decision win at Noche UFC in Las Vegas.
Best UFC on ESPN+ 85 Main Event Betting Pick: Valentina Shevchenko to beat Alexa Grasso and regain the UFC women’s flyweight title.
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