Most divisions that exist in the UFC don’t flourish for other promotions. Usually, all the top talent goes to the most recognizable and highest platform in the sport. You would especially think that a promotion would struggle to maintain a roster for a weight class after the UFC buys out 12 fighters from the company’s stable.
Invicta FC apparently didn’t get that memo.
The all-female promotion’s strawweight division continues to bloom despite losing a lot of its top talent — including its strawweight champion — last year to the UFC. The UFC put all of that talent inside The Ultimate Fighter house and to help crown a champion in the UFC’s newly created 115-pound women’s division.
The division’s belt changed hands at Invicta FC 12 in April when Livia Renata Souza took the strap from Katja Kankaanpää with a fourth-round submission victory. Souza came in for her first fight in Invicta and really knocked it out of the park. The 24-year-old Brazilian looked for numerous submissions and even accepted being on her back to get the fight-clinching submission.
Sure, Kankaanpää can come back and reclaim her title in the division, but there is one other fighter who could really steal the show. That would be Alexa Grasso.
Grasso will get the first crack at dethroning Souza in September at Invicta FC 14. The 21-year-old has impressed since her debut victory last September at Invicta FC 8. Grasso has a tenacity and pinpoint precision in her striking that makes her a really tough out for anybody.
Mizuki Inoue was Grasso’s first real test against some of the better talent in the division. The fight with Inoue really showed Grasso’s true potential in the division and really established her as a skilled striker within the division. Grasso was able to outstrike her counterpart over the first two rounds with some great combinations. She even mixed it up by throwing in some kicks that helped weaken the leg of Inoue. It’s that kind of diversity in her strikes that makes her something fearful. When a fighter is able to mix it up like that, it helps send their opponent through a mental loop trying to defend the variety of strikes. That isn’t to mention that weakening the legs helps prevent the takedown and keeps an opponent at bay if they don’t check the leg kicks.
These skills should come in handy when Grasso faces Souza, who is undoubtedly going to try to submit Grasso. Souza is as relentless as they come on the ground, and Grasso had some trouble with Inoue when the fight went to the mat. The time in between the two fights should give Grasso a chance to really work on staying off the mat and on her feet, where she definitely has an edge over Souza.
Grasso is an example of just how strong this division has become outside of the UFC. Prior to her debut in Invicta, her resume was lacking in names. Out of her four fights, only one fighter had a winning record before they fought Grasso and two were making their professional debuts. The Mexican fighter has really come a long way since then.
The only way Grasso stays in Invicta for very much longer is if Souza absolutely demolishes her in their September title fight. It’s a good bet that Souza will not be able to accomplish that task. Granted, Grasso needs to work on her ground game, but she is definitely a top-15 strawweight, if not a fringe top-10er.
The UFC held its first event in Mexico late last year. It seemed as if there was a possibility that Grasso would head to the leading promotion and fight in her home country to bolster the card. However, she did not. Now, she is poised to potentially become the next Invicta strawweight champion. Regardless if she wins this fight or loses this fight, though, she is definitely well on her way to the UFC.