UFC 258 Preview & Predictions: Barber vs Grasso
By Cathal Geeney
The co-main event sees two flyweights compete. This a great opportunity for both to make a statement. As this is the latest weight class to emerge in the UFC, there is still a lack of competition and so, an impressive win here could put either woman on the path to a title challenge.
Interestingly, Barber is coming off a loss while Grasso has been defeated in two of her last four outings, so both fighters will be itching to taste victory.
Grasso is a striker who looks to come forward and put combinations together with her fists primarily, while mixing in some kicks. The Guadalajara-born fighter relies on her pace and pressure to out strike her opponent. The former Invicta fighter is light on her feet, moves in and out of range and throws feints initially. However, when she comes forward to rush her opponent, she often forgets to protect her chin and can be countered quite easily.
Grappling is another area which could be exposed for Grasso. She has only been taken down four times across her four UFC victories, yet has eight takedowns against her in her three losses. If Barber can successfully land takedowns, Grasso may well struggle.
Like Grasso, Barber tends to leave her chin open and can be caught. JJ Aldrich had a lot of success here in the first-round when they met. The Future relies on her size and strength to overwhelm her opponent. The twenty-two-year-old is not the most technical striker and she can look uncomfortable at times when she is backed up.
However, she does pack a powerful punch and looks very big for a flyweight when she steps inside the octagon. Of her eight professional MMA victories, five have come by knockout. She also has a submission victory on her record and might look to test out Grasso’s wrestling and submission defence.
There is an intrigue here based on the weaknesses of these flyweights. Both are aggressive fighters who look to land, yet both can leave themselves exposed at times.
It will be interesting to see how Grasso handles the pressure of Barber. Grasso has never been knocked out and I believe she will be able to ride out the big flurries and consistently land more strikes. This is a big ask; she will have to work hard to fight off any clinches and keep the fight standing and striking where she excels. It’s a close one, but I’m going to take the fifteenth ranked flyweight to get the win here.