The Film Room: Alexa Grasso vs. Tatiana Suarez

By Kevin Wilson May 16, 2018
Alexa Grasso will take on “The Ultimate Fighter 23” winner Tatiana Suarez in the UFC Fight Night 129 co-main event this Saturday at the Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. Grasso and Suarez have emerged as two of the top prospects at 115 pounds, and the winner of their match will move one step closer to contention in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s women’s strawweight division.

The latest installment of The Film Room examines their confrontation:

Future Queen?


Grasso made her professional debut at just 18 years of age, and six years later, she finds herself on the cusp of becoming a legitimate contender. Since she joined the UFC in 2016, she has compiled a 2-1 record, with wins over Randa Markos and Heather Clark. Despite only six years of experience, Grasso has shown herself to be a remarkably technical boxer who continues to round out her game with each fight. With lightning-quick hands and tactical aggressiveness, the Lobo Gym standout is becoming one of the best strikers in the strawweight division.



Grasso while patient will swarm for a finish when she smells blood. She uses a classic boxing approach, with her hands high, her upper body tilted slightly forward and her stance wide. What sets Grasso apart from her competition are constant feints and the ability to mix up her strikes with incredible variation. She stunned Clark with a knee strike and then flurried for a potential stoppage with punches, kicks and knees to the head and body.



With the finish near against Clark, Grasso again surged forward, but she was a bit overzealous and wound up with her back against the cage. Generally, Grasso is adept at keeping her composure while pursuing a stoppage, but she occasionally overextends on her strikes and winds up in the clinch or against the cage. This could be a recipe for disaster against Suarez, who is always looking to get the fight to the ground.



Something noteworthy about Grasso is her knockout power. The ability to finish a fight with one strike is rare in a strawweight, but it was a talent Grasso showed early in her career. Although she has not had a finish since 2014, four of her first six wins were by knockout.

Strawweight Sleeper


Some might have been surprised to see Suarez open as a -200 favorite, but those who have followed her career know how dominant she can be at her best. A two-time bronze medalist at the United World Wrestling Championships and a lifelong wrestler, Suarez is making her case as one of the best grapplers in the division.



Although she may not have the best setups, Suarez has a vast arsenal of takedowns and can seemingly take the fight to the ground at will. Whether its single legs, double legs or head-and-arm throws, she can get her opponents to the mat from any position with a variety of takedowns. Like UFC Fight Night 129 headliner Demian Maia, Suarez drives on her takedown attempts and will not break her grip until her opponent hits the ground.



Despite being known as a wrestler, Suarez has been training in jiu-jitsu since 2013 and owns four submission victories in MMA. Her opponents often focus on getting back to their feet and instead find themselves in a submission. Against Kate Jackson in “The Ultimate Fighter 23” semifinals, Suarez arched her back while standing in a bid to complete a guillotine choke. She then pushed her way into mount without releasing the choke and arched her back once more to force the tap.



Suarez in the past has been a bit passive with her ground-and-pound, but she cut loose in her most recent fight -- a unanimous decision over Viviane Pereira. She held top control for 11 of the 15 minutes and landed 57 of 72 ground strikes. If Suarez keeps up her ground-and-pound attack, she can look for the technical knockout and create more openings for submissions.

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