Former UFC flyweight title challenger Jennifer Maia still believes she could be the one to dethrone Valentina Shevchenko. Paired up against Katlyn Chookagian in what could be a title eliminator bout, the Brazilian feels like she has learned a lot since her first encounter with ‘Bullet’.
In an interview with Combate, Maia believes a win over Katlyn should get her very close to another title shot. If everything goes according to plan and the promotion gives Jennifer another crack at Shevchenko’s title, the Brazilian vows to bring another belt to her home country.
“I believe that, if I win this one, I could be even more prepared to face Valentina again. I made her struggle a little bit, I gave her a bit of a hard time. At the moment, if anyone can beat her, I believe it’s me. For now, I was the one who gave her the hardest five rounds. So, at the moment, I believe I’m the opponent who can beat the so called ‘unbeatable’ one. My goal is to bring one more belt to Brazil this year.”
The fight against Chookagian will also be a chance to improve on a previous performance for Maia. The first time the pair met, Katlyn was able to outpoint Jennifer and score a unanimous decision win, back in November 2019. This time around, the Brazilian vows to be more aggressive in order to even the score.
“I see that she’s been doing the same thing in her last fights, she keeps the same pace. I see her fight against Jessica Andrade as a lesson for me. Stay close to her, don’t let her get in that range of hers. She’s always in her comfort zone, where she doesn’t let the other person attack, while not being too aggressive herself. Of course she has very long strikes and we need to be sharp all the time, but I’m going to try to nullify her game.”
“I’m constantly evolving.” Maia said. “Always improving every little detail. But I always play a very sure game, too afraid of making a mistake. This time, I intend to take more risks. If I make a mistake, I make a mistake. I intend to take more risks so I can let loose a little bit more.”
In her last outing, Maia (19-7-1) scored a unanimous decision over Jessica Eye, back in July 2021. Before that, the 33-year-old dropped a unanimous decision in her title challenge against Shevchenko, back in November 2020.
Now, Maia is expected to take on Chookagian at UFC Vegas 46, on January 15, at the UFC Apex, in Las Vegas. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a featherweight bout between contenders Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze.
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