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Jennifer Maia of Brazil reacts after her victory over Jessica Eye in their flyweight fight during the UFC 264 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Jennifer Maia Plans To Show 'Real Growth'

The first time Jennifer Maia and Katlyn Chookagian met was on November 2, 2019, where Maia fell to Chookagian via unanimous decision. The two are stepping into the Octagon as competitors once again on Saturday night and, this time, Maia is confident she has exactly what it takes to defeat Chookagian. 

“What makes me more excited is that I'm different now, having other fights, gaining more experience,” Maia said. “One of the details that made all the difference in that fight was that I couldn't make weight. So, this time, I'm very prepared and this is going to be great. I'm going to make weight for sure, and I'm going to show another reality.”

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Fans last saw Maia at UFC 264 last July, when she faced off against Jessica Eye and earned a unanimous decision victory. Prior to her meeting with Eye, Maia got a chance at the title against flyweight champion Valentia Shevchenko.

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Shevchenko came out victorious with another successful title defense and even though Maia didn’t earn the belt she grew a lot from the fight.  

“After I lost to Valentina, even though I lost, I've gained an incredible experience fighting the champion,” Maia said. “Fighting Jessica Eye, too, who is an athlete with a big name and a lot of experience. That victory was very important to me.”

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Since they last met, Maia is 2-1 with the lone loss coming against the champ. On the other hand, Chookagian is 3-2 with losses against Jéssica Andrade and Shevchenko. 

The fight against Shevchenko is another reason why Maia feels like things will be different when she faces Chookagian once again at UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs Chikadze.

Jennifer Maia of Brazil secures an arm bar submission against Joanne Calderwood of Scotland in their flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 01, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Subbing Calderwood, August 01, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“I think I've grown a lot, both in my technical game and as an athlete,” Maia said. “I made changes to make weight in a better way. And after I fought the champion, after I had a tough fight against Valentina, that, for me, was a real growth as an athlete.”

There is no doubt that Maia wants another shot to take down Shevchenko and become champion, and defeating Chookagian could potentially put Maia right back in the title picture, as she currently sits at the No. 4 ranked flyweight, while Chookagian sits in the No. 2 spot. 

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Chookagian’s reach could be a challenging aspect for Maia, and she acknowledged that. Chookagian stands at 5’9 with a 68-inch reach and a 42-inch leg reach, while the Brazilian is 5’4 with a 64-inch reach and a 38-inch leg reach. During the bout, Maia must be cautious to not let Chookagian dictate the fight with her size and movement. 

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - JULY 20: (L-R) Jennifer Maia of Brazil punches Roxanne Modafferi in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at AT&T Center on July 20, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - JULY 20: (L-R) Jennifer Maia of Brazil punches Roxanne Modafferi in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at AT&T Center on July 20, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

“She is a very tough opponent. Everyone has to go through her to be able to fight for the title,” Maia said. “But I believe I can play on the inside all the time to win this fight…I think I can't allow her to get comfortable. If I let her play in her space and distance, then she can win the fight. But I'm prepared not to let her enjoy the game.”

Maia has earned four wins by knockout and five wins by submission, and come Saturday night she will be looking to increase that number by one. 

“If I manage to knockout or submit her, it will be beautiful.”

UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs Chikadze took place on Saturday, January 15, 2022, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. See the Final ResultsOfficial Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.