Alexa Grasso is ready to make her ascension up the flyweight rankings following a great start to the year.
The win created more than a change in the rankings and the second half of her paycheck. Grasso is more prepared than ever to continue her evolution in an interesting flyweight division.
“I feel good,” Grasso told MMA Fighting in regards to her performance. “ [I’m] full of motivation. I watched the fight with my coaches and we are ready to improve my skills for the next one.”
While the matchup was intriguing to the vast majority of fans, most of the attention was on Barber and her attempt to bounce back from her first professional loss to Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 246 in January 2020. In addition to the loss, Barber tore her ACL, which kept her out of action for over a year.
Despite the attention being on Barber’s return and her confidence, Grasso was more than happy to let her skills do the talking on the road to the bout.
“I’ve always been a quiet person,” Grasso said. “ The UFC is a giant network that we must take advantage of to show our life and our sport to the world. I’m earning a spot each fight. It’s lovely to be known for my fighting style.”
After losing the first two rounds, Barber came out—as expected—aggressively in the third looking to finish the fight. Grasso weathered the storm and absorbed some big shots to earn the decision victory. In the end, there weren’t any surprises.
“She needed a KO or to submit me to win the fight, we knew it,” Grasso explained. “I was able to absorb some of her bombs so I wouldn’t get hurt. I kept scoring some punches and not accepting the pressure.”
One of the aspects heading into the fight that made Grasso a popular pick was her experience and resume in the strawweight division. Sharing the cage with perennial contenders such as Felice Herrig, Randa Markos, Tatiana Suarez, Carla Esparza and others built her confidence that—win or lose—she can compete with the best fighters in the world.
Grasso believes those lessons learned will continue to carry her forward.
“Indeed, the experience I’ve gained I feel is huge,” Grasso stated. “Now I step in the octagon with a controlled heart.
“I liked fighting them because it taught me that I had some areas I needed to work on, some of them mentally and some on my technique. I feel like the puzzle is taking shape.”
In the past, surging divisional contenders have let the idea of fighting for a world championship distract them from focusing on solely the next step. Grasso is aware of the buzz she has garnered from a win over Barber, but has also seen what looking too far ahead has done to certain athletes in the past.
Expectations are one thing, but keeping them in context is something Grasso is taking seriously.
“I’m surprised [that happens],” Grasso said. “But I know that having a lot of expectations from many people is because they see potential in me. I take this as a motivation because of course it is my goal. I just hope that people enjoy my fights and bring at least 15 minutes of joy to Mexico.”
When it comes to what the eight-fight UFC vet is looking for next, she’s not too picky. Now that she’s in the top-10, Grasso wants to continue moving forward up the rankings.
“I’m ranked No. 10 right now so anyone above me on the rankings would be good,” Grasso stated.
Grasso is keeping her expectations concise and realistic as she enjoys success in her new weight class. As important as that is in her career, the fact that she is giving her country of Mexico something to get excited about in a different avenue in combat sports is providing extra motivation to push her towards greatness.
“When we were going to fight for the first time internationally, my coach Francisco said, ‘We have to train, train so hard, and continue no matter what. We will train until we make it to the top. We can do it together,’” Grasso explained. I said, Let’s do it.’
“I’m excited to see what happens next. Mexico is well known for our boxing, and our goal is to take that stamp to the top of my sport.”