Jennifer Maia has always been focused on winning a UFC title. But her mindset on the path to get that title has changed.
“Sometimes we think too much ahead,” Maia said ahead of her bout at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus. “I used to think that a win could get me another title shot. Now we’re taking one fight at a time and not worrying about the next ones. Obviously, we want to fight for the title, but this fight is the most important to me.”
The last time fans saw Maia was just two months ago in Las Vegas, where she faced Katlyn Chookagian. Maia fell to Chookagian via unanimous decision, and even though she lost, Maia emphasized how she is constantly learning and taking things away from her fights, regardless of if she wins or loses.
This weekend she’s stepping in on a couple weeks’ notice to face flyweight up and comer Manon Fiorot. For Maia, camp was business per usual, just at a little bit faster pace due to the short notice.
“As it was a four-week camp, I had to pick up the pace a little bit,” Maia said. “I did a 12-week camp in one month. But I managed to bring other athletes to the camp this time to do some sparring and the rest was basically the same.”
There was no hesitation for Maia to jump in and take this fight. Fiorot went 3-0 in her first three UFC fights in 2021, which pushed her into the rankings. She’s currently ranked at number 13, while Maia sits at number four.
Maia understands the test that she faces on Saturday night.
“As the division is constantly changing, I didn’t know when I was going to fight or if I’d have to wait for a well-ranked opponent,” Maia said. “I didn’t know when I would be able to fight again. When this opportunity came up and they offered me this fight, I took it because I know my opponent is tough and that she’s on the rise in the division. I want to work. I want to fight, so I took this opportunity.”
Fiorot lost in her professional debut, and she hasn’t tasted defeat since, rattling off eight wins, six of them coming by knockout. On the other hand, Maia has a record of 19-8-1, with four wins by knockout and five by submission.
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In a classic veteran vs. up-and-comer matchup, Maia believes this fight has the power to produce fireworks.
“She’s coming off three wins in the UFC, so she’s been getting a lot of attention,” Maia said. “I believe this fight will be a war.
“She’s coming strong to go up in the rankings, especially against someone like me, who is better ranked. She’s very fast and aggressive. We’ve seen that in her last fights. She’s coming confident.”
Even though Maia understands the skillset that Fiorot has shown in her previous fights, the Brazilian does have more fights under belt, which is something that she believes will lean in her favor.
Maia is confident that she’ll fight for the title once again one day, and whether it’s against current champion Valentina Shevchenko or not, she will be prepared when the day comes. But for now, she’s focused on moving from her loss and getting back in the win column.
“Because I’m fighting against an opponent that is behind me in the rankings, I don’t think my position will change, but it will erase my last loss and maybe after a few wins I can get a title shot again.”
UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus took place on Saturday, March 26, 2022, live from a sold out Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.