At UFC Norfolk, TUF 23 strawweight winner Tatiana Suarez returned to the UFC for the first time since winning the show. The big question? What would she look like after over a year away.
Tatiana Suarez looked to be the next big thing in the UFC women’s strawweight division. She’d won The Ultimate Fighter 23, besting fighters like Kate Jackson, JJ Aldrich, and Amanda Cooper. Yet after winning it all, injury saw her remain out of action for over a year. Saturday, she made her return at UFC Fight Night 120 (UFC Norfolk) in Norfolk, VA. Opposite her was the ever dangerous Viviane Pereira. Both ladies entered the night with undefeated records.
Suarez had a noticeable height and reach advantage in this one, but actually appeared to struggle to close the distance. On a shot in, Pereira locked in a standing guillotine as Tatiana Suarez worked for a single leg; eventually, she would land it. Going straight into side control, she’d get to work as the Brazilian looked to grab a triangle from the bottom. Using knee on belly, Suarez maintained position, then briefly took her opponent’s back. She would wind up on the back once more later in the round, both hooks in, looking for a choke. Pereira was trapped, unable to escape and resorted to punching back at her tormentor. While Suarez could not find the finish, she transitioned to side control, doing more damage along the way, and easily took the first round.
It was more of the same in the second once Suarez got the fight to the ground. She utilized knee-on-belly to pass into half guard, and was able to evade any and all submission attempts Pereira attempted off her back. Getting into mount, a big elbow got the Brazilian fighter squirming, and Suarez looked to add more damage. The fence got in the way, and Suarez opted to look for a front choke, then wound up stacking Pereira on her back and folding her up, adding ground and pound where she could throughout the round.
While Pereira needed to keep the bout standing in the third, she was unable to stop the takedown of Suarez. Perhaps the only saving grace was that it came along the fence, giving Tatiana little room to work. The third played out much as the second had, and in the end, Suarez took home a one-sided decision, handing Pereira the first loss of her career.
Tatiana Suarez def. Viviane Pereira by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)