Flyweight Champ Alexa Grasso Tore ACL In 2021 Fight But Kept It Secret

New UFC flyweight champion Alexa Grasso has revealed for the first time that she tore her ACL during a fight with Maycee Barber in 2021, but was still able to emerge victorious and kept the injury and subsequent surgery a secret.

“This is something that I’ve never spoken about because it would hurt me and I thought I was never going to be the same fighter,” Grasso told UFC Espanol (translated from Spanish). “In the third round against Maycee Barber, like around two minutes in, we had a weird movement and my knee stayed stuck on the canvas and I heard a pop. I was like, ‘Oh, something is wrong,’ and obviously it was my worst round.

“I couldn’t move the same. And when I walked on it, it felt like when your sandal is wet and your foot slides away. I thought, ‘This can’t be happening. I’m winning the fight.’ I wanted to throw myself on the ground and just say no more, it’s over. I tried to fight with my back against the fence as much as I could. I gave it the best of me and I won the fight.”

“After that, the following week I got surgery,” Grasso continued. “I said, ‘I need to get this done right away.’ I also didn’t want to speak a lot about it because when you have an injury that bad, then your opponents just want to target your knee, obviously. That’s why I stayed quiet and said nothing.

“I did rehab, and also got the opportunity to do commentary (for UFC Español) at a time that I was really low. I thought, ‘Let’s see if I’m going to be the same as before. If my footwork is going to be the same. It hurt terribly. A torn ACL is the worst, the nightmare of any athlete. But I did my rehab, I did more than I needed to come back better, I recover, and two years later I’m champion and that fills me with pride.

“I no longer think of the surgery, and it no longer hurts. I sometimes remember, ‘Oh yeah, I have a graft,’ but that’s in the past, and it’s part of the process. It’s something we run the risk of whenever we fight.”

The win over Barber in 2021 was Grasso’s second in a row after moving up to flyweight, and she’s since gone on to win a further three fights in a row since the year out rehabbing from the ACL surgery, including her major upset submission finish of Valentina Shevchenko back in March to win the 125lb title.

It’s now widely expected that Grasso will head into a rematch with Shevchenko, though it’s not been officially announced yet.

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