Tatiana Suarez is coming back. The undefeated UFC strawweight contender told Ariel Helwani of ESPN that she received medical clearance for her return to the Octagon and has planned a significant change in the weight class she would like to compete in.
Suarez has been on the sidelines for about two years with a neck injury that had been re-aggravated in her last fight against Nina Ansaroff at UFC 238. The injury concerns inflamed discs that have been a continuous issue since her wrestling career.
Instead of receiving surgery to correct the issue, Suarez opted to rehabilitate the neck as much as possible because she was worried about how it would have affected her movement. The rehabilitation has worked thus far for Suarez, who has been able to resume normal training in recent months.
As eager as she was to return, Suarez admittedly went a little too hard and suffered a few injuries that would force her to slow down. She broke her right hand in wrestling practice and got concussed while doing some at-home training with her boyfriend, but has recovered from both of those setbacks.
“I’ve been nursing my injury — my neck injury — but I’m back to live training,” Suarez told Helwani. “But when I came back, I kind of went crazy, so then I ended up breaking my hand and then I got a concussion and then I had some back issues. I have chronic back pain and sometimes its so bad I can barely walk or stand, so it just depends on I have to be very careful with what I do. I have to monitor who I’m going with and if I go with someone too heavy, sometimes it acts up.
“So that’s kind of been happening since I started going live again because I was able to start going live in February,” continued Suarez. “Since then, I’ve been going live and then all those injuries happened, but now I’m good. Its been a couple of weeks where I’ve been going live again and trying to start a camp soon, hopefully.”
Now that she is back to training again, Suarez is focused on ensuring there are no more injuries before committing to her next appearance. She initially targeted a comeback in the summer, but Suarez has shifted that for sometime in the fall.
“When I first started in February, I was like summer,” said Suarez. “I was thinking like July or June, but that’s not going to happen. Now I’m thinking, hopefully, like September. Even maybe August.”
Suarez does not have an opponent in mind for her next fight, but she knows what weight class it will be in. Despite her absolute dominance in the strawweight division since her arrival in the UFC nearly five years ago, Suarez has decided to move up to flyweight division.
She cites feeling off during her fights and believes it could be a result of her weight cutting. Suarez has previously competed at 125 pounds in the beginning of her professional career.
“I was thinking I was going to try out flyweight for a couple fights and see how I feel there,” said Suarez. “All the fights that I’ve had at strawweight, during the fights, I always felt like I was weak and tired. So, I was wondering if maybe just the weight cut was too draining for me and it was usually like I’ve never had an issue making the weight, it was just the day after I felt like I wasn’t full recovered. I don’t know if other people feel that way too or if that’s a natural feeling, but I definitely feel way stronger and more explosive when I practice than when I fight. So, it was like maybe I need to try where I don’t cut very much weight at all.”
Suarez went on to say that she does not think she will completely close the door on 115-pounds, she is looking forward to seeing how she fares in the new weight class. If she does well, then she will surely be a future title challenger that meets current champion, Valentina Shevchenko, at some point.
Suarez has thought about a fight with Shevchenko and said her wrestling may be a problem for her.
“I do think I have a good skill set in terms of my wrestling [that] could give her trouble,” said Suarez. “She’s a very good striker and she has good wrestling too as you saw in her last fight. People were like, ‘I thought you would’ve had her in the wrestling department’ but you can’t compare my wrestling with [Jessica] Andrade’s wrestling because our wrestling is just so different.”
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