This past weekend at UFC 255, Jennifer Maia (18-7-1) was one of the biggest underdogs of all time in a title fight. She took on the undisputed queen of the flyweight division, Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) for the UFC flyweight title.
If Maia had pulled off the upset, she would have been the biggest underdog in history to have captured UFC gold. Most, including myself, thought that Shevchenko would maul the challenger. However, Maia proved to be much tougher than anyone anticipated.
While Shevchenko would still go on to win at UFC 255, Maia really challenged her. It was evident from the very beginning that Maia was very strong in the clinch. In the second round of the fight, Maia completely controlled the champion along the fence and on the ground.
Maia’s physical strength was something that most people didn’t give her credit for. Shevchenko has been so dominant in the UFC‘s flyweight division that she had only lost one round prior to Saturday night. Maia for the most part dominated the second round of their fight.
However, that would be the only round she would win. Shevchenko was still dominant on the feet and used her superior grappling to win most of the exchanges. Still, Maia’s toughness proved a lot about her on Saturday night.
What’s next after UFC 255?
Even in a fight where she lost four of the five rounds, Maia’s stock went up on Saturday night. It was clear that she was still not the superior fighter, however, she was not nearly as out of her league as most people thought.
If there wasn’t a Valentina Shevchenko, it wouldn’t shock me if Maia was a future UFC champion. I think a good next fight with Maia could be a contest with Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1). Both fighters will still be in the UFC‘s top five after Saturday night.
Calvillo also competed at UFC 255 where she came up short against Katlyn Chookagian. I think pairing these two up would make for a very entertaining grappling contest. Calvillo’s wrestling versus Maia’s BJJ skills would be fun, and it’s a good logical next fight for both women.