A “very happy, motivated” Jennifer Maia returns in the co-main event at UFC 255, in the biggest fight of her career.
Maia (18-6-1) is in a very different spot now than she was just a year ago. On Saturday, she challenges Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC women’s flyweight championship. Compare that to November 2019: Maia lost a unanimous decision against Katlyn Chookagian, after missing weight for the second straight fight.
What a difference a year makes. In August, Maia stepped in against Joanne Calderwood, making weight and defeating the Scottish fighter, who had been promised a title shot of her own. With the win, Maia took her place, and now fights for gold.
“My last fight [prior to her win over Joanne Calderwood], I felt that I lost the fight after the weigh-in. Because I was very sad and very frustrated for not making weight,” the former Invicta FC champion told Cageside Press during the UFC 255 media day this week.
Weight, of course, is going to be a theme heading into Maia’s fight at UFC 255. It’s rare, if not unheard of, to see a fighter granted a title shot after missing weight in two of their past three fights.
Asked about her cut, Maia explained that “I kept the same strategy that I did for my last camp.” And while she didn’t given an indication of what she was weighing to start Fight Week, “what I can tell you is that I’m very good. My weight cut is going very well. And I’m very near to making the weight.”
Thus far, no one in the flyweight division has been able to solve the puzzle that is Valentina Shevchenko. When it comes to what sets her apart, Maia stated that “I’m a very well-rounded fighter. So I’m ready to grapple, ready to strike, ready to wrestle her. I want to show during the fight that I’m superior in all areas.” Beyond that, Maia added that she was ready to bring the belt home to Brazil — despite being a sizeable underdog in the fight.
“I really don’t care about the oddsmakers, about the odds,” said Maia, who instead is focused on “going there, putting on my fight, putting on my A-game and getting the win, and the title for Brazil.”
UFC 255 takes place Saturday, November 21 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs live on PPV following online and televised prelims.