In a bit of an odd situation, Katlyn Chookagian says she’s been told she’s the backup fighter for Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye at UFC 238. But Joanne Calderwood was told the very same thing.
Philadelphia, PA — In her last fight, UFC flyweight Katlyn Chookagian faced off in a title eliminator. It’s deja vu all over again for her next bout, as Chookagian (11-2) is once again in a title eliminator. The first, of course, came against Jessica Eye. Eye won a close split decision at UFC 231, and will fight for the title at UFC 238 in June.
Chookagian will grace the same card, facing Joanne Calderwood in a fight that is also a title eliminator. It’s a rare second chance, at least immediately, in MMA.
“Every fight is definitely the biggest one. Each time you’re like ‘this is the biggest fight ever!’ — you get another one, it’s even bigger. I’m used to that,” she told reporters including Cageside Press backstage at UFC Philadelphia. “It’s a number one contender fight. Kind of the same thing as my situation for the last fight.”
While she’s bummed out at missing a title shot, she admits “I’m just lucky that my next fight was the same position, so hopefully I’ll make the adjustments and won’t let that mistake happen again.”
One interesting twist is that both Chookagian and Calderwood have been told they’re backups for the title fight between champ Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Eye. “I would imagine I’m ranked three, she’s ranked seven, it kind of makes sense. I just lost a split decision to someone fighting for the title, she just beat a debuter, so it doesn’t really make sense for her to get that over me,” Chookagian said Saturday.
“I’m confident I will get it, but I’m not concerned with that. I’m just concerned with my fight. If that happens, we’ll figure it out then.” Having been a back-up before, Chookagian has a been there, done that approach.
Speaking of the title fight, Chookagian said she sees Shevchenko winning. “I don’t see where [Jessica Eye] she could beat her pretty much anywhere. She doesn’t have as good striking, as good cardio, explosiveness, she doesn’t have wrestling to take her down. If she does, I think their jiu-jitsu is pretty equal.”
Asked if there was any worry about not getting the title shot promised is she does beat Calderwood, Chookagian answered that no, there wasn’t. “Because you see so many things happen, you can’t hope for anything. I can’t be like ‘oh if I win this, I’m definitely getting a title shot.’ Even if they tell you that, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “You just have to take it one fight at a time. I train with Sijara Eubanks, she signed a contract to fight for the title, then they took it away and gave it to Joanna.”
“So it doesn’t really matter what they say. You have to be prepared, and able to adjust to any situation and not get too emotional about it.”
Watch the full UFC Philadelphia (UFC on ESPN 2) press scrum with Katlyn Chookagian above!