Alexa Grasso perplexed by Valentina Shevchenko’s claim of theme change for UFC 306 at Sphere

UFC women’s flyweight champion Alexa Grasso is confused by Valentina Shevchenko’s statement about UFC ditching the Mexican Independence Day theme for UFC 306 at Sphere.

Ahead of “The Ultimate Fighter 32” season debut Tuesday on ESPN and ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET), Shevchenko told MMA Junkie it was her understanding the historic Sept. 14 card in Las Vegas would no longer be built around the Mexican holiday. It was a curious revelation given UFC CEO Dana White’s repeated statements around the event, in which many expect to see Grasso (16-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) and Shevchenko (23-4-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC) fight their trilogy bout for the women’s flyweight title.

Grasso said she’s yet to receive a bout agreement for the Shevchenko trilogy at UFC 306 and claimed she’s heard nothing that leads her to believe something has changed with the promotion’s plans.

“As far as I know, it’s going to be Noche UFC again,” Grasso told MMA Junkie on Monday. “I’ve seen a few interviews from Dana White, and he is saying it’s a love letter for the Mexican Independence Day, for the Mexican fighters, and he had a really, really good experience last year with Noche UFC. It would break records on ESPN, UFC Fight Pass. As I know, it’s going to be 100 percent dedicated to Mexican Independence Day.”

After Grasso took the title from Shevchenko in a significant upset at UFC 285 in March 2023, the pair had their rematch at Noche UFC last September. The fight ended in a split draw, meaning Grasso retained the title. They went through the entire “TUF 32” filming as a build toward a trilogy bout, but Shevchenko had previously showed some reluctance to do the third fight in a situation where Grasso would enter as the cornerstone of another Mexican-themed event.

If, for some reason, Shevchenko declines to fight on that date, Grasso said she will move on to the next contender. She is beyond keen to fight at UFC 306 and would do so whether Shevchenko is her opponent or not.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Valentina or (Manon) Fiorot – anyone,” Grasso said. “I’m just preparing a lot, every area. I’m training every single day. I’m in fight camp since I got 100 percent from my hand. I’m just ready. I just want to fight that day. I would truly, truly love to fight that date, and I’ll be ready stronger than ever for that date.”

Grasso said she hopes it is Shevchenko, because she wants to prove she is superior in their matchup once for all after criticism around the rematch result. If not for a rogue 10-8 scorecard from judge Mike Bell for Grasso in the fifth round, Shevchenko would’ve taken home the decision and the belt.

“I would love to fight with Valentina because it would be the first trilogy in women’s UFC history,” Grasso said. “We were both coaches, too, and we have a lot of history. She has done so much for the sport. Me too, as the first Mexican female champion. We are both doing a lot of big things, so I think that would be the ideal fight, the perfect fight. I had the submission. In the second one, sadly it was a draw. But the third one is going to be like, OK, now we are going to know who is the winner. So that’s why I would love to be a part of that. I would love to fight her, and I’m super ready. I swear.”

Before she returns to the octagon against whomever it may be, Grasso said she’s excited for the world to see her coach on “TUF 32.” She said she enjoyed the process of the reality series and is eager to showcase what kind of knowledge her staff shared with the group of UFC hopefuls on her team.

“It was 100 percent me – it was really cool,” Grasso said. “I just want (fans) to know ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ again because a lot of people are excited to watch it, especially here in Mexico. Almost more in Mexico because it’s the first time a Mexican team was able to do that, 100 percent a Mexican team. So it’s huge for me, for my uncle, for my coaches, and for all my team to be part of this because it was really, really cool. We had guys from all over the world.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie