Valentina Shevchenko open to UFC 306 trilogy bout with Alexa Grasso at Sphere since it has ‘nothing related to Mexican Independence Day’

It’s Valentina Shevchenko’s understanding that UFC 306 at Sphere will not be the same type of Mexican Independence Day celebration that was built around her second fight with Alexa Grasso.

Shevchenko (23-4-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC) is set to serve as a coach opposite UFC women’s flyweight champion Grasso (16-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) on Season 32 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, which debuts Tuesday on ESPN and will serve as a lead-in for the trilogy bout between the pair.

After seeing her long title reign come to an end with a stunning upset loss to Grasso at UFC 285 in March 2023, they ran it back at Noche UFC in September 2023. The rematch ended in a split draw, with Grasso keeping the belt after judge Mike Bell awarded a heavily-criticized 10-8 round in the fifth frame that cost Shevchenko the decision.

Now expectations are the third bout will take place at UFC 306, which goes down Sept. 14 at Sphere in Las Vegas and has been touted as another Mexican Independence Day celebration. According to Shevchenko, though, the theme of the event will not not match what was seen this past year.

“It’s my understanding that there is talk about Sphere, but it is not Mexican Independence Day,” Shevchenko told MMA Junkie on Monday. “It’s going to be focused on the Sphere. It’s going to be focusing on UFC 306. Mexican Independence Day is a few days before the event is happening, so it’s nothing related to Mexican Independence Day. It’s going to be a complete different event, completely different location and complete different day. Close, but different.”

Even if it was a Mexican Independence Day theme, Shevchenko said she wouldn’t allow the trauma of her previous experience to decline the date or fight.

“These superstitions, they are not good for the fighter,” Shevchenko said. “Fighter has to be ready no matter what. If fighter is going to put these things in their head, it’s going to slowly destroy them. It’s all about how strong your mentality is, how much you can get rid of that. If you can get rid of that, you’re going to be successful no matter what, no matter how. I fought so many times in the territory of my opponents, so it’s shows me there’s nothing I cannot do. Everything is in my hands and I just have to prepare good and do whatever I have to do for the victory.”

Shevchenko and Grasso both sustained hand injuries in the second fight that required surgery. It will be a year or more by the time they get in the octagon again, and during that time they were offered the opportunity to coach the “TUF 32” reality series.

Sometimes there will be significant conflict between coaches while filing the show, but Shevchenko said that wasn’t the case with her and Grasso, despite their history of two previous fights.

“My personality – I’m not an aggressive person,” Shevchenko said. “I’m in martial arts for a long time. Martial arts teach me so many things, and I don’t have anything against Alexa. She’s doing what she’s doing and definitely the result, the first fight we had – whatever. The result was the result. The second fight was a draw, but in my opinion I know she was gifted the decision. I don’t know what reason this judge did whatever, but I don’t have anything against her. She’s doing the same. She has the passion for martial arts and we worked alone together very good. We were sharing the same things in common with our view for martial arts. I think our relationship now is kind of good.”

Shevchenko said she hasn’t been officially offered a date or location for the Grasso trilogy fight, and that she is “waiting for the final word from the UFC, what they are thinking and what they are wanting to do with the fight.” Ultimately, though, she knows the trilogy is happening, and it will be her next fight.

After feeling like she got a raw deal in the rematch, Shevchenko said it’s a prominent goal for the next fight to leave the judges out of it, and begin a second reign as 125-pound champion in a definitive manner.

“The last fight showed that I was stronger, I was faster and she had just a few moments that were in her favor,” Shevchenko said. “I’m just focusing on my performance and be more faster, be stronger and definitely it’s a thing I don’t want to leave the decision for the judges. I have all the reason why to not let it leave for the judges. It’s a personal thing to not let it happen. Definitely I will focus more on the finish. For me, it’s no matter what kind of finish, striking or submission. It has to be done. I’m focusing more on those things.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie