Veteran Joanne Wood will look to right the proverbial ship on Saturday’s UFC bill in Columbus, as she meets resurgent prospect Alexa Grasso in what promises to be a compelling striker’s duel at 125 pounds. Check out our picks for the card’s co-headliner, Wood versus Grasso.
In Saturday’s penultimate bout, Joanne Wood will aim to regain relevance at 125 pounds, while Alexa Grasso will look to remain perfect in her adopted weight class and claim a seat at the proverbial table among the divisional elite. While her struggles with the scale are now a thing of the past, Wood’s struggles with consistency aren’t, as she’s caught the short end of her last two fights and split her past eight since moving up from strawweight in 2018.
As for Grasso, the Mexican native’s UFC stint has seen its own problems, repeated inactivity chief among them. A good bit of buzz preceded Grasso’s arrival from Invicta FC in 2016, and while she’s finally started making good on it with a pair of solid victories at flyweight, she’s taken the Octagon just eight times in five-plus years with the promotion. She ends a 13-month layoff in Saturday’s clash with Wood, a matchup that will pit her footwork, angles, and fast hands against Wood’s physicality and methodical kickboxing.
Will Wood take the center and chip away at Grasso from range to snap her skid, or will Grasso’s combinations and movement earn her a third straight win at 125 pounds?
Wood vs. Grasso Fight Info
Date/Time: Saturday, March 26, 7 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
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Wood vs. Grasso Odds Analysis
Despite her sporadic schedule, Grasso heads to Columbus as a sizable favorite on the strength of her two impressive showings at 125 pounds, with FanDuel listing her at -250 as of Wednesday evening. Wood, on the other hand, sits at +200 with Caesars Sportsbook. While a Grasso win doesn’t come at the best value, the lines on a decision victory for the two flyweights are a little more intriguing, as she and Wood often go the distance to get their respective hands raised. FanDuel currently has a Grasso win on points at -130 and an upset decision for Wood at +360.
Joanne Wood Betting Profile
When Wood’s prayers for a UFC flyweight division were answered in 2017, she and MMA observers thought a career resurgence was imminent. Over four years later, the fan-favorite has yet to win more than two straight fights at a time and stay above .500 in the Octagon.
While Wood’s plodding style, kickboxing arsenal, and clinch work have often served her well, the mat remains a troublesome area, as she’s tapped in four of her seven promotional defeats, with the last coming courtesy of Taila Santos this past November. Luckily for the fighter affectionately known as “JoJo,” Saturday’s bout should remain in her domain, as Grasso – like Wood – is at her best when the fight stays upright.
Alexa Grasso Betting Profile
A highly touted prospect when she left Invicta for the UFC in 2016, Grasso’s had to reintroduce herself on several occasions throughout her stint in the world’s pre-eminent promotion. The 28-year-old fought just once in 2018, 2020, and 2021, but the good news is, she’s settled in nicely at flyweight after alternating wins and losses in six UFC strawweight bouts.
Grasso’s divisional debut saw her outpoint Ji Yeon Kim in August 2020, a victory she followed with arguably her best showing yet against Maycee Barber in February of last year. She hasn’t fought since, but Grasso appeared to have turned a corner in her win over Barber, showing surprising strength in the clinch, an active guard, and fast, accurate hands en route to a win on points. Billed as a technically polished striker upon arrival in the UFC, Grasso has steadily developed into a well-rounded talent, and as long as she can up her work rate, she’ll remain a problem for many a flyweight.
Wood vs. Grasso Picks
- Grasso to win (-235) ★★★★
- Grasso by decision (-130) ★★★★
Wood vs. Grasso Predictions
Grasso to win (-235)
When she faced Karolina Kowalkiewicz back in 2019, Grasso flaunted her footwork and angles while treating her plodding foe to a death by a thousand cuts. I expect her to replicate much of that performance against Wood, whose methodical ways will make her a (mostly) stationary target for Grasso to dissect. Wood’s clinch work is one of her best tools, but she doesn’t much rely on it anymore. Even if she tries to resurrect old “Dr. Kneevil,” Grasso won’t be so easily outmuscled. Expect Grasso to dart in and out of range and treat Wood’s noggin to a steady stream of two-piece combinations en route to victory.
Grasso by decision (-130)
Knockout artists are a rarity at 125 pounds, Wood has yet to lose by knockout or TKO as a pro, and Grasso doesn’t usually work from the mat unless someone puts her there. All this is to say, Saturday’s clash will likely remain on the feet, and as the faster, more natural athlete, Grasso should find her timing early and remain the busier of the two flyweights through three rounds to claim both the judges’ scorecards and her third straight W.
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Wood vs. Grasso picks made 3/24/2022 at 12:07 a.m. ET.