Las Vegas, NV — Former women’s flyweight title challenger Jennifer Maia got back in the win column in 2021, after falling the previous year to champ Valentina Shevchenko.
Returning at this weekend’s UFC Vegas 46, Maia (19-7-1) will look to make it two in a row, this time against Katlyn Chookagian, as she works her way back to the title picture.
“I just had one fight last year, but it was a good year because I got a good win against a very tough opponent,” Maia told media outlets including Cageside Press during Wednesday’s media day. “I wish I could have fought more often, but just one fight, one win is good.”
The match-up with Chookagian is a rematch of a fight that happened just two years ago, one which Maia lost via unanimous decision. Asked if she was surprised about the promotion opting to run the fight back already, Maia told us that “I’m not surprised, looking to the rankings, I saw that she could be a possible opponent.”
That said, the fight wasn’t one she was campaigning for. “That was not a fight that I was like, ‘oh I have to have the rematch.’ I wanted to fight somebody that was in front of me in the rankings, because I fought Jessica Eye last time, and she was behind me in the rankings,” Maia explained. “So I was like, whoever is in front of me right now, I will face them, and it just happened to be Katlyn.”
Despite coming up short in her first UFC title opportunity, in 2020, Maia has taken a positive approach to the loss, and working her way back.
“Of course I was very sad when I lost the fight, but after watching the fight I could see that I [fought] a very good fight, against one of the best female fighters ever,” she stated Wednesday. “So that was something that motivated me to start over, and keep on track.”
What also helps is that she loves the process — even her weight cut. “I love what I do, and I love the process. I love to cut weight, I love to train, I love training camp, I love every step of the way. So that is something that motivates me, to be here, and to still fight for my dream— that is to be champion in the UFC.”
Jennifer Maia knows a thing or two about gold, of course. Prior to joining the UFC, she held flyweight gold in Invicta FC — a promotion that returns to action Wednesday night. Asked about her experience there, Maia replied saying that “I loved the time that I spent in Invicta. It’s an event that opens a lot of doors to fighters who want to be in the UFC one day. I fought there when the UFC didn’t yet have my weight class, so it’s a very important event for the girls.”
Jennifer Maia faces Katlyn Chookagian this Saturday, January 15, 2022 at UFC Vegas 46. The event airs live on ESPN in the U.S. More coverage from Wednesday’s media day can be found below.