The UFC women's Flyweight title remains in the hands of Alexa Grasso, but following the main event of Noche UFC, we ultimately are left with more questions than answers. Most can agree that the score read 2-2 going into the fifth and final round, and with Grasso dominating Valentina Shevchenko, judge Mike Bell scored the fifth 10-8 in favor of Grasso. Because of that, the fight was scored a draw, which drew out a lot of controversy. Undoubtedly, this puts a massive hold on the division, until the UFC can decide how the future of 125 should play out. Regarding what's next, there are some options. I don't think there's a perfect way to matchmake this division going forward, but I'm going to highlight five fights that need to be made following Noche UFC.
On a side note, Valentina Shevchenko revealed that she broke her thumb in the first round of the fight, so the timetable for her return is uncertain.
Controversy aside, even if Mike Bell had scored the fifth round a 10-9 for Alexa Grasso, Valentina Shevchenko would have been a two-time Flyweight champion. Despite that, this fight while very entertaining and back and forth, was too close to call. A decision on either side would have been a better result than a split draw. I don't think this rivalry between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko should end here, they need to fight for a third time. Both women had a lot of success and were moments away from finishing each other, and surely the fans want to see these two settle their competition before we see a new challenger to the title. As soon as both women heal up from their injuries, book it.
Erin Blanchfield and Manon Fiorot are in a tough spot. Both are on huge winning streaks and are coming off the biggest wins of their careers. Surely enough for a shot at the title. But, they're going to have to play the waiting game. The UFC has not revealed who they favor for a shot at the title, so until Grasso and Shevchenko resolve their trilogy, Blanchfield and Fiorot should decide who gets the next shot in a title eliminator. The perfect main event for a Fight Night in 2024.
Moving on, Taila Santos is admittedly in a strange position. In another world, she would have been fighting Alexa Grasso on Saturday night, but some judges did not feel the same way. In her last fight, Santos lost a very competitive fight to Erin Blanchfield, which was supposed to be her chance to get back at the title. She remains a legitimate threat to the Flyweight belt despite being on a two-fight losing streak, but it looks like she needs to gain her confidence back because this division is better when she’s in the conversation for a title. Katlyn Chookagian has had a lot of experience fighting the best female fighters in the world, and while she is coming off a loss as well, Chookagian remains the perfect gatekeeper who has derailed a lot of prospects hype on their way up. A win for either fighter keeps them in the conversation for another title shot.
It’s been rough to watch Jessica Andrade, a former Strawweight champion and multiple-time title challenger, go on the skid that she’s been on as of late, but she’s entitled to a new role in this division. I’d like to see her welcome new contenders to the division and serve as that gatekeeper for those fighters to either reach contendership or go back down to their current role of the prospect. Andrade needs a tune-up, and Maycee Barber needs a big fight. Let’s book these two next.
Tracy Cortez put on the best performance of her career on Saturday against a very tough Jasmine Jasudavicius and needs a ranked opponent next. Cortez is on an eleven-fight win streak, and while she is primarily a wrestler, she took the last year away from fighting and came back a new and improved martial artist. It was the striking of Cortez that impressed, and she out-landed Jasmine with very crisp boxing. Casey O'Neill is coming off of her first professional loss, and would be a perfect matchup for Cortez. The winner will go on to challenge a top ten opponent next.
Admittedly, we are not sure of when Valentina Shevchenko will come back following her hand injury, and if the UFC needs another contender to fill the void while she recovers, Erin Blanchfield or Manon Fiorot will do just fine in Shevchenko’s absence. But, in a perfect world and Valentina can recover quickly, these are the five fights that need to be made following Noche UFC.