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Invicta FC champion Jennifer Maia close to signing with the UFC, eyes debut against Valentina Shevchenko

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Jennifer Maia is open to fighting Valentina Shevchenko in the UFC.
Esther Lin, Invicta FC

There aren’t many female flyweights willing to enter a cage with Valentina Shevchenko, especially after her one-sided beating over Priscila Cachoeira, but Jennifer Maia is up for it.

Shevchenko dominated and submitted “Pedrita” in the co-main event of UFC Belem on Feb. 3, and Maia, who was one of the first options to face “Bulet” in Brazil but turned it down since she had just defended her title at Invicta FC, would gladly take that fight if offered by the UFC.

”I don’t choose opponents,” Maia told MMA Fighting. “The moment they offered me this fight, I turned it down because I was coming off a surgery and then a fight, and I needed some time to rest and respect my body. I chose to decline it that time. I would accept to fight her now. We said we would take this fight if we had more time to prepare because I was just coming off a fight.

”Right now, I don’t choose. Whoever they offer me, I’d say yes. I got back to training a while ago and I don’t choose (opponents). I’ll fight whoever is in front of me. I think that Valentina will have her post-fight recovery now, but I’d definitely accept to fight her or any other opponent they want.”

Maia is the Invicta FC flyweight champion, currently riding a six-fight winning streak that includes decisions over Vanessa Porto, Roxanne Modafferi and Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, but according to her team, she’s a free agent at the moment.

Maia teased that she will have some “good news” in the coming days, and that news could be a potential deal with the UFC.

”There’s nothing done yet,” she said, “but we’re waiting for good news to at least sign the contract.”

Seen as one of the best flyweights in the world today, Maia doesn’t expect to make her UFC debut against the company’s champion Nicco Montano, but would like to face “a tough opponent, to show what I can do.”

Shevchenko could be that opponent, Maia says, especially if Montano isn't ready to come back and defend her belt against "Bullet" in the near future.

If she’s matched up against Shevchenko, the Invicta FC 125-pound queen doesn’t exactly have a strategy in her mind right now, but would be happy to test her striking skills against the UFC star

”My fighting style is not a strategic one,” she said. “I prepare myself to be ready wherever I feel comfortable in the fight, but my background is muay thai so I’d fight her standing. If I feel any difficulties, since she’s a great striker, I’d take the fight to the ground. But I think it would be a good fight standing. I’d test myself first.”

Shevchenko’s flawless performance earned her a “Performance of the Night” bonus at UFC Belem, but Maia “didn’t expect anything less from her” — especially in a fight that she considered a mismatch.

”I already knew she was a really tough athlete,” Maia said of Shevchenko. “I didn’t expect anything less from her. She’s an experienced fighter, a muay thai champion, and I knew she would do well and become one of the best in this division.

”I think that Priscila never fought someone at Valentina’s level, so it lacked experience from her to give Valentina a hard time and put on an actual fight. I think it was a mismatch because Priscila didn’t have the experience, so it became a bit easier for Valentina, and Priscila getting injured early in the fight made it even easier. It was a complete domination by Valentina.”