Photos by Djatmiko Waluyo
The lights go out. Black. Lorde’s “Team” is playing and the letters spelling Alexa Grasso’s name start appearing on the screen at the end of the platform. The Mexican fighter’s silhouette appears, and when the light hits her, she smiles. Instead of her teeth, the black and pink of her mouthpiece shine through. The joy is evident. Without a doubt, debuting in WMMA’s most important division implies pressure and nerves, but as she arrived and they announced her name, Alexa did not stop smiling.
After a few exchanges, the first round went to the ground. Alexa faced Ashley Cummins in the third fight at Invicta FC 8. “It popped once,” Alexa told me after the fight, referring to Ashley’s arm when she put Ashley in an armbar that she endured for what seemed like a whole minute until the end of the first round.
The exchanges continued, marks of the fight appeared on each fighter’s face, applause surrounded them and in the following rounds, Alexa found better reach and rhythm in her standup game. Ashley could not take her to the mat.
Her biggest smile came as Alexa waited for the official decision announcement. It was unanimous.
“Wow, wow, wow,” Alexa exclaimed while she took her gloves off—she couldn’t shake the smile off her face in the locker room moments after the fight. “It’s cool to work so much and for everything to come out as planned,” she continued and proceeded to hug her dad, Luis Grasso, who was in her corner. “I trained as a local,” she said and later repeated a pair of “wow’s” and went off running to see the next match up, featuring her training partner, Irene Aldana—another debutante.
The week preceding the fight could be considered the toughest week in camp. The mind takes turns and generates brutal self-reflections that must be met head-on by the heart and the determination to push forth with the dream. Add to this the cameras, the interviews and the media duties that are just part of being a part of a big promotion. All of this is on display, sometimes with a mind jarred and mixed-up because you haven’t given it the food and water it needs when getting ready for the infamous weigh-in.
Amidst all the noise, night sessions and the anxiety prior to stepping into the ring, Alexa shined for three rounds, and above all, she shone a smile which screamed the happiness that comes from making dreams come true.
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