Even with a miss at the scales by one fight, Jennifer Maia vs. Katlyn Chookagian remains a title eliminator for the women’s flyweight division.
The UFC Women’s flyweight division has not had the smoothest ride. Unlike the women’s strawweight division which was home to the very best of the division from day one, the flyweight division had talent scattered across regional and international promotions. Starting from a healthy amount of contenders in the Bealltor flyweight division to KSW holding potential contenders in Europe to ONE building its own set of fighters in Asia, the 125lb division saw potential title holders spread across the globe. So when the UFC announced The Ultimate Fighter Season 26 to crown their inaugural flyweight champion, the concentration of competition was very watered down. Thus the division that emerged from the tournament wasn’t very firm.
This was very clearly reflected in the kind of challengers and title match-ups the division saw. However, under the iron reign of the current champion Valentina Shevchenko the division is finally seeing stability. A division which is finally churning out contenders and credible challengers. The first set of these contenders will be clashing this weekend when Jennifer Maia takes on Katlyn Chookagian. The two are very well established fighters within the 125lb division. Both of them have a very credible record at flyweight which dates back to before UFC flyweight division existed.
Maia enters the clash on a two-fight winning streak. A former Invicta FC champion, she was one of the few fighters people knew would dominate the flyweight division when the UFC announced its creation. Standing with a record of 16-4 which includes wins over the likes of Roxane Moddaferi, Alexis Davis, Vanessa Porto, and Jessica Andrade among many others Maia stands as one of the strongest contenders. After a sour UFC debut, she is now standing face-to-face with a title shot. The only thing standing between her is an opponent who can claim to have a record as strong as her own.
Chookagian before making her UFC debut was a well-established flyweight. Her 5-0 run at flyweight before her UFC debut included a win over future TUF finalist Sijara Eubanks. After starting her UFC tenure at bantamweight, Chookagian returned to the 125lb division in January 2018 in a winning effort against Mara Romero Borella. This was followed by another win before losing to Jessica Eye in a title eliminator match-up. A win against Joanne Calderwood immediately put her up back in the title picture. This weekend’s clash against Maia might be her chance to finally claim a shot at the gold.
The match-up itself is fun. The two are skilled on feet, with Maia having a clear edge on the ground. Maia missing weight does put a little dent to the match-up, however, it shouldn’t affect the long term implications of the result of the fight. While missing weight is considered unprofessional, the UFC in the past has been known to ignore minor glitches if the fighter who has missed weight delivers a strong performance. Example: Yoel Romero getting a title opportunity despite missing weight against Luke Rockhold. In any case, Maia vs. Chookagian is a go, and it should be fun to see who takes the win home.
UFC 244 takes place Saturday, November 2. The card airs exclusively on ESPN+ PPV in the U.S. after televised and online prelims, and on BT Sport in the UK. In India, the card airs live on November 3 on SONY Ten 2 and SONY Ten 2 HD.