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Alexa Grasso, UFC
Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/

SEATTLE - It only took one match for Alexa Grasso to fall in love with mixed martial arts. The current best pound-for-pound fighter in the women's division was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and started practicing the sport at the age of five. She was inspired by her father, a taekwondo black belt back in the day. As Grasso transitioned and practiced several combat sports, she landed in mixed martial arts and joined UFC in 2016.

"My inspiration took place on a day I joined my uncle, who is my coach, to a fight event where I saw my first women's fight," Grasso said in an interview. "I was amazed to see that such beautiful and strong women could punch and kick that way against a larger rival. I saw the beauty of the sport and that women are just as capable of fighting as men."

Grasso made her debut in the mixed martial arts world in December 2012 at the age of 19. She then went on to win each o her first nine fights until eventually losing in her UFC debut in 2017.

Ever since her journey started more than a decade ago, Grasso has mentioned how important her parents' support has been. "My parents have supported me in all my decisions. My mom is very concerned, but always on the lookout for my tournaments or fights," she said. "My dad is always the happiest, he loves the idea of me being a fighter, and supports me with even the simplest things from helping with my uniform to drying my tears and saying beautiful words when I'm in the last weeks of preparation."

Having a support system has been essential for Grasso, who finally achieved her dream last year by winning the women's flyweight championship, taking the title from Valentina Shevchenko.

Winning the fight via submission, Grasso became the first Mexican woman to ever be crowned as a UFC champion. "When I won the belt, when it was around my waist, it was like a timeline, remembering everything I've been doing all these years to achieve it, so it was a really beautiful moment," she recalls.

Alexa Grasso, UFC
Alexa Grasso is one of just three Mexican fighters to ever win a UFC belt Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images/

But the life of a fighter is not always seen through rose-tinted glasses. Being a champion comes with its struggles. After losing against Carla Esparza in 2019 and having issues with weight cuts, she looked for help by hiring a mental coach. It's fair to assume this approach has worked for her, as she remains undefeated since that fight (5 wins, 1 draw).

"I have a mental coach who teaches me how to train the mind. I imagine every time I'm going to fight, and how it's going to be. I imagine the place, the people, the noise, the corner, everything! Every time, I'm trying to live that moment before fighting and how I want it to be," she said.

Alexa Grasso, UFC
Out of Grasso's 16 wins, 4 of them came via KO and two via submission Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/

When she was announced as a nominee for the 2023 MMA Fighter of the Year award, Grasso sent a message to her followers via Instagram, hoping that her story can serve as a catalyst for other women to follow their dreams and pursue a career in the world of sports. "I hope that my story of resilience can serve as a little bit of motivation in their lives," Grasso said in the post. "The road is never easy, NEVER, but by pushing yourself to accomplish goals you become stronger, more resilient, smarter, and happier," she said.

Alexa Grasso pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history at #UFC285[ Rewatch this fight and many more on UFC Fight Pass NOW ]

Alexa Grasso defeats Valentina Shevchenko to win the women's flyweight title

But even at the summit, Grasso hasn't lost sight of what is next for her. "I heard that humans are often climbing mountains," Grasso said. "When you get to the top of one and you achieve the biggest goal of your life, then you turn your head and you realize that there's another one to climb...I thought that being the champion and achieving this goal was the top of the world, but right now, it's just one mountain. I have to defend it. I have to keep fighting."

Expected to fight against Shevchenko and defend her flyweight belt some time this year, Alexa Grasso remains as the best pound-for-pound fighter in all the UFC and, most importantly, a mirror in which all Latin women can see themselves.

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