UFC headliners Alex Grasso, Viviane Araujo enter matchup with tentative title aspirations

UFC headliners Alex Grasso, Viviane Araujo enter matchup with tentative title aspirations

The women’s flyweight contenders are hoping to make a statement at UFC Fight Night 212 but know UFC 280 looms large.

LAS VEGAS–On Saturday, top women’s flyweight contenders Alexa Grasso and Viviane Araujo clash in a headliner at the UFC Apex that will have a significant impact on the UFC title picture at 125 pounds.

Exactly how significant remains to be seen.

Mexico’s Grasso (14-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) enters the UFC Fight Night 212 contest sitting in the No. 5 position in the promotion’s official women’s flyweight rankings. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Araujo (11-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) falls just behind at No. 6.

The winner of the five-round affair will certainly find themselves in an enviable position in the division, but they’ll also likely need to wait until next week’s UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi to know what they’ve earned as a reward for victory. The pay-per-view event features another important matchup between No. 1 KatlynChookagian and No. 7 Manon Fiorot will also have a major impact on the next step for reigning champ Valentina Shchenko.

“Honestly, I don’t know (what’s next), because there’s another important fight,” Grasso said. “The next weekend, Fiorot vs. Chookagian is the fight, so I think we are kind of in the semifinals. We are the four. The champion will look at the person who does the most. “

Grasso and Araujo were originally scheduled to meet in January, but the Brazilian suffered an injury in training and was forced to withdraw. They were then paired together again in August, but visa issues forced them to reschedule. It was a win-win situation, as each fighter will now be a UFC headliner.

” I’m very happy about this opportunity,” Araujo stated in her native Portuguese. “I’ve been dedicating myself, my life, pretty much-17 years-for martial arts, and having this chance to be in a main event is like a dream come true. “

Oddsmakers favor Grasso, with the 29-year-old contender currently a -225 favorite at SI.Sportsbook.com, implying a nearly 70 percent probability of victory. Grasso, a boxing specialist, is well-known for her punching prowess. She will likely keep the action on the ground.

” We studied her a lot and I’m ready to fight her,” Araujo stated. “I know her boxing skills are very good. She moves very well, but I’m ready. I had been training a lot in boxing and wrestling. My wrestling skills are sharp so I’m ready for her to fall and keep the fight on ground. “

Meanwhile, the 35-year-old Araujo is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who does boast well-rounded skills but would likely benefit from the action taking place on the canvas. Grasso stated that she had prepared accordingly.

“Honestly, she’s the toughest opponent I’ve trained for,” Grasso admitted. She moves a lot. She is a strong jiu jitsu fighter and has strong hands. She is a black belt and this is a great challenge. I have been improving my jiu jitsu skills and I am taking this opportunity. You don’t need anything else to prove your worth than a black belt. “

Reigning champ Shevchenko is currently enjoying time off in her native Kyrgyzstan but will certainly be watching both UFC Fight Night 212 and next week’s UFC 280 with keen interest. It remains to be seen who Shevchenko will face next.

” I’m sure that whoever wins the fight will be in a really great position and really good place to be at the head of the division,” Araujo stated.

UFC Fight Night 212 streams in its entirety on ESPN (4 p.m. ET).

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