LAS VEGAS (AP) — Alexa Grasso retained her flyweight title after coming away with a split draw against Valentina Shevchenko on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 227.
It marked the first time UFC held a main card on Mexican Independence Day, keeping in tradition for combat sports to hold big fights on Sept. 16.
It was a long-anticipated rematch from March 4, when Grasso pulled off the stunning upset with a fourth-round submission after Shevchenko missed badly when she led her attack with a back kick. Grasso quickly moved in for the takedown and eventually was able to apply a rear naked choke to win the belt.
Saturday, neither fighter made many mistakes but rather made the most of advantageous situations. It took a strong finish in the fifth round by Grasso to earn the split draw, as each fighter earned a 48-47 score, with a third judge scoring the bout 47-47.
In the co-main event, 14th-ranked welterweight Jack Della Maddalena (16-2) earned a split decision over 13th-ranked Kevin Holland (25-10), with all three judges giving scores of 29-28.
“I thought it was close, I feel like he ended up on the cage a bit more, but whatever I’m not a judge,” Della Maddalena said. “The plan was to come in, be defensive, use the eyes and just wait for my shots.
Raul Rosas Jr. (8-1) landed a powerful left hook that dropped Terrence Mitchell (14-4), and immediately pounced for a ground-and-pound attack, prompting referee Mark Smith to stop their three-round bantamweight fight at the 55-second mark of the first round, sending the crowd into a frenzy and his mother, Oyuki Rios, into happy tears.
“I had to prove a point today,” said 18-year-old Rosas, who was coming off his first loss. “I knew I had to come back from that, I knew I’m better than, I disappointed my fans, my people.”
Daniel Zellhuber (14-1) used a right hand to hurt Christos Giagos (20-11) and eventually brought him to the ground and made him submit with an anaconda choke hold at the 3:26 mark of the second round in their three-round lightweight bout.
In a three-round featherweight bout to open the main card, Kyle Nelson (15-5-1) defeated Fernando Padilla (15-5) by unanimous decision with scores of 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
In what was an early candidate for “Fight of the Night” from the preliminary card, a bout that surprisingly didn’t make the main card, fan-favorite Tracy Cortez, ranked 14th in the world, improved to 11-1 with a unanimous decision win over Jasmine Jasudavicius (9-3) in a three-round flyweight bout.
“I know that I’ve had a pretty long layoff and this was my return and I really wanted to make a statement, and I think I did that tonight,” said Cortez, the only person to ever beat Erin Blanchfield. “Would I say I’m ready for the title shot right now? No, but I will be ready when that time comes. But as of right now, tonight we really focused on my opponent. But when the time is right, I do believe I deserve (a title shot) sometime next year, if things keep going the way they’re going.
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