A new contender emerged in the women’s flyweight division early on the UFC Columbus preliminary card. With Manon Fiorot undefeated in the promotion, she was looking to move past former title challenger and Invicta FC champ Jennifer Maia, and push towards the top of the weight class.
She did just that, though Maia made a fight of it.
Fiorot had been expected to face Jessica Eye earlier in the month, but an injury to “Evil” Eye scrapped those plans. Instead, she was paired up with the former Invicta champ Maia, who worked hard to close the distance early.
Fiorot vs. Maia opened with each fighter leading with their strengths: Fiorot with her kicks, Maia working her boxing. The kickboxer and karate black belt Fiorot stayed mobile on the outside, working kicks both to the legs and body. Fiorot’s left hand was also a factor, catching Maia more than once on the way in. But in the second half of the round, the Brazilian would charge forward, bullying Fiorot up against the fence for a moment, then landing off the break.
Towards the end of the round, Maia flipped the script, landing a high kick of her own which resulted in Fiorot shooting for a takedown. The takedown attempt was an obvious giveaway: the Maia’s kick had hurt.
To open round two, Fiorot immediately landed a throw, getting on top. Maia was a country mile from the fence, using a closed guard, only to eat some hammerfists. But she would trap a leg, looking for a heel hook that forced Fiorot to twist and turn— allowing Maia to scramble free. Maia then worked on a takedown of her own, but they flipped around on the way down, with Fiorot again coming out on top.
She wouldn’t stay there long; with the pair back on the feet, Fiorot again stayed long, leading with her side kick. Fiorot then changed levels, landing a takedown, but Maia was right back up, and landed a head kick as they got back to the feet! Fiorot ate it, but that being the second high kick Maia had connected with in the fight, France’s Manon Fiorot was going to need to keep her head up — no pun intended.
Heading to the third, Maia’s corner warned her that she was going to lose a decision if she continued on the way she had fought through rounds one and two. While the second frame was a better round for Maia, they were likely correct — Fiorot was almost certainly up, with Maia’s bright spot being the head kick.
Round three, however, saw Fiorot again on her horse, circling and staying out of range. Maia pressed forward, but Fiorot, more often than not, was first to open fire. Maia drove Fiorot up to the fence, but the French fighter escaped. A side kick landed for Fiorot; moments later, she landed a right hand. Maia would close the distance and score a takedown, but Fiorot was right back to her feet.
Like the entirety of the bout, Fiorot and Maia went back-and-forth for the remainder of the third. With Maia in need of a finish, when the buzzer sounded, the winner in this one was clear. Fiorot passed her latest test, extending her win streak to nine — and earning herself some consideration as a title contender.
Official Result: Manon Fiorot def. Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)