Alexa Grasso had some big shoes to fill when she signed with the most prestigious mixed martial arts promotion on the planet.
The 23-year-old fighter was picked up by the UFC almost year ago. She was, and still is, regarded as one of the most promising female prospects at 115 pounds. Grasso entered the UFC with an unbeaten record of 8-0 that included four wins under the Invicta FC banner, and notable victories over Jodie Esquibel, Ashley Cummins and Deep Jewels champion Mizuki Inoue.
Grasso’s success in her young MMA career earned her a main card slot for her promotional debut last November at UFC Fight Night 98. The Lobo Gym product put on a dominant and well-rounded performance, outpointing Heather Jo Clark in a unanimous decision. Following an impressive UFC debut, the Mexican fighter was given a quick turnaround and was booked to co-headline UFC Fight Night 104 at the Toyota Center in Houston against established veteran Felice Herrig.
“It was a very big fight, against a big name opponent, and I was fighting in the co-main event,” Grasso told MMA Fighting. “And I don’t know, I took it as if it were this super gigantic thing, when I only had to train and enjoy it, which I didn’t. I was just like, ‘I have to win, I have to win, I have to win, and I have to train more, more, more,’ so everything that I did and trained for, I wasn’t able to do it in the fight.”
That February night in Houston, Grasso came up short against Herrig in a somewhat out of character performance. The loss marked Grasso’s first defeat in her professional fighting career.
“It hurts, obviously,” Grasso said. “At first, it hurts a lot, but well, that’s something that you have to go through. All the greatest athletes have lost at some point. But I’m just taking it the best way possible, learning from my mistakes that I won’t be making again, and seeing what I need to improve on. I think obviously that losing is bad, but I see it as something good. I think I went through a stage that I needed to go through and it helped me mature a lot, and believe me, I’m a new athlete and person.”
Despite the painful loss, Grasso took a valuable lesson form the experience, and she will now carry that over into her upcoming bout against Randa Markos at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 114 in Mexico City, Mexico.
“The last training camp was very stressful,” Grasso explained. “I was too obsessed, in a bad way, that I had to train a lot. But in this one, it was more like my other training camps where I just trained and enjoy it a lot.
“I just understood that you don’t have to be stressed about your training camp. Apart from the physical demands, it’s very mental, so you have to be okay mentally. So yeah, I’m just enjoying it and staying concentrated because if you start overthinking it, things go bad.”
Grasso’s spotlight for this fight hasn’t dimmed since she’s still in the co-main event of a UFC card and she’s still facing an established opponent that’s in the top 10 of the strawweight rankings. Yet, the Guadalajara native is not fazed by bright lights anymore, as she has learned from her previous mistakes made in her last fight against Herrig.
“Obviously being in a co-main event brings some pressure because everyone is waiting for those two last fights, and you play an important role,” Grasso said regarding being booked to co-headline again. “But I no longer see it as something bad, I think that I have a new opportunity to do it well, and do it how I wanted to do it in the last fight. So I’m trying to be more calm, but I also see it as a great opportunity, a great opportunity to regain the spot that I was in.”