The UFC will celebrate Mexican Independence Day with a UFC Fight Night event headlined by a female flyweight championship bout.
Alexa Grasso will defend her 125-pound championship against former champion Valentina Shevchenko on Sept. 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White announced on Wednesday. Additionally, former middleweight title contender Kelvin Gastelum will make the move to welterweight to face Shavkat Rakhmonov.
Grasso (16-3) won the flyweight championship in an upset submission win over Shevchenko in March. Fighting out of Guadalajara, Mexico, Grasso, 29, has won five in a row and is the No. 4-ranked pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, according to ESPN.
Shevchenko (23-4) is the most dominant flyweight champion in UFC history, having defended the belt seven times before losing to Grasso.
Rakhmonov (17-0) is likely to be favored against Gastelum (18-8), who hasn’t fought at 170 pounds since 2016. Gastelum missed weight for a welterweight bout against Donald Cerrone in late 2016 and was forced to move up to 185 pounds. He is 5-6 in the middleweight division since, but recently told ESPN he wanted to return to welterweight, which he has long viewed as his optimal weight class.
Mexican fighters have enjoyed a lot of success in 2023. In addition to Grasso’s title win, flyweight Brandon Moreno has solidified himself as the top 125-pound fighter in the world. Featherweight Yair Rodriguez secured an interim UFC title in February, and female bantamweight Irene Aldana vied, albeit unsuccessfully, for the UFC’s title against Amanda Nunes earlier this month.
Grasso-Shevchenko title rematch to headline Sept. 16 UFC card