Tatiana Suarez could be on the precipice of the long-awaited strawweight title. After she defeated Jessica Andrade at UFC Nashville, but she wasn’t alone.
As UFC champion Zhang Weili prepares to defend her belt on August 19 against Amanda Lemos at UFC 292, veteran challenger Yan Xiaonan has been waiting in the wings since breaking her double-win record with a first-round TKO victory over Andrade in May. If Zhang defeats Lemos, the potential allure of a UFC China bout between the two Chinese leaders could give Xiaonan an edge in her next belt bout. But Suarez is sure the story of her seven-year journey to the belt. And her prominence throughout her UFC matches will create a more compelling story for the promotion.
“I think I should [be next]. You know me I am not entitled to anything,” Suarez said on Wednesday. MMA hours“But I think I should be thinking about who will fight them next. in terms of business standpoint I think it makes a lot of sense for the UFC, even as a business. I’m an undefeated long-term retired fighter, winning 2 surrenders in a row. beat the former world champion at that weight. I think it creates a good storyline for them. from a business point of view
“I know that Yan is there too. And I also know that she has two victories in a row. But I think she had lost 2 fights in a row before. Then she got a few wins, so I think we’re both at that point in terms of titles. But I just thought I was just yelling like I don’t know how to explain. From a business standpoint for them, for the UFC.
“And for me, I just want to score goals. Because I think it’s been a long time. I have now tried twice,” Suarez continued. “The first time I didn’t have the opportunity to do that. I won over Nina [Nunes] Then I got injured and had to take a break for three years. And I didn’t even have a chance to fight for the belt. And then I do it again. I tried to succeed I tell them what they want me and I do. I have done what they asked for.”
Suarez’s path to the title race has been a tumultuous one. It was initially pinned as a future 115-pound champion after winning. super fighter 23Suarez almost challenged for the belt in 2019 before repeated knee and neck injuries kept her on the sidelines for nearly four years. The 32-year-old wrestler finally regained her title in February with a second-round submission to Montana de la Rosa, then repeated it against Andrade, making 2023 her first year at the Wrestling Tournament. There have been several fights since 2018.
While Suarez was nervous about finally winning her first UFC title, she knew Xiaonan would feel the same way. So she was more than happy to fight to determine who was the most worthy.
“I know I might be able to fight Yan. I don’t even mind that,” said Suarez. [contender fight]You guys are two competitors. We’ll let you guys fight.’ I was willing to do that. But I don’t know if they will do that. I think they have two good contenders who can form a team. But maybe they just had us two fight, I don’t know, I don’t know what they were thinking there.”
Either way, Suarez finally regained his confidence. Both in her ability to fulfill the potential that she shone in her early UFC runs. But also her ability to safely hit the 115 pound limit.
UFC Nashville represented her in a strawweight drop for the first time since 2019. De la Rosa’s fight was a flyweight division. And Suarez was pleased with what had happened.
“I was very worried,” said Suarez, “just because I’ve grown bigger over the years. Because I had to do a lot of rehab for my neck and knees. Then you’re like adding a lot of muscle. And more than that, Covid all I did was lift and squat and stuff like that. So I increased my muscle mass. And I think it’s going to be a lot harder for me. And I came heavier than usual when I was down to 115, so I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got a job to cut out for me. Especially if this is my first time back at 115’.
“But my doctor, Andy Galpin, lacks scientific knowledge. because indeed I made the week very easy, I weighed 5.6 pounds the day before. And it was like an hour and 15 minutes and it stopped. My team was shocked. ‘How did you do that?’ And I didn’t feel that bad. I wake up in the morning, I take a shower, I get ready. i feel nothing Some of those people seemed to be taken to the scales. And I’ve never been close to hitting the scales. So I’m really surprised. Not only that My recovery has been amazing. I feel like I can do whatever I like 10 times over. My cardio feels great.”
For now, Suarez is healthy and awaits a decision by UFC officials on the next steps for the division. And if there’s an opportunity to challenge for the belt before the end of the year, Suarez is confident she’ll call herself a UFC champion by New Year’s Day 2024.
“I hope it’s a time frame,” Suarez said. “It’s amazing. Because that means I have 3 fights in a year — and would that be amazing? Especially considering how long I’ve stopped. And I came back to do it in a year. That would be awful for me in terms of the story.”
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