Jennifer Maia wants another crack at Jessica Andrade to get a second shot at UFC flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko in 2022.
In 2012, Maia defeated Andrade via decision on the Brazilian regional circuit, and she thinks a win over the former strawweight champion could make her next for “Bullet.”
“I believe Jessica will be a good fight for me,” Maia said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I could also fight [Lauren] Murphy, but I believe it’s going to take a while for her to fight again because of her [medical] suspension. And since Jessica is coming off a win and so am I, I believe it would be a good fight. People will like this fight.”
Andrade is ranked No. 2 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings after her first-round knockout win over Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 266, while Maia, who outpointed Jessica Eye at UFC 264, is No. 6. Andrade’s victory over Calvillo was her first since coming up short against Shevchenko this past April, when she lost via second-round stoppage.
Maia believes she and Andrade both have evolved “a lot” since their 2012 fight in Curitiba, and a rematch would be ”very interesting.”
Ranked below Andrade, Katlyn Chookagian, Lauren Murphy and Bellator champion Juliana Velasquez, Maia thinks she should be higher on the list given her performance against Shevchenko.
“Valentina is the reference in the division, so I compare my fight with her to [other contenders],” Maia said. “I was able to go five rounds. Was it the toughest fight of my life? It was, but it was a fight where I tried.
“I think I gave Valentina more work than other opponents. Not taking anything away from anyone because each fighter has their potential, but I compare myself to [how I went against] Valentina, and I think I was the one that gave her a fight.”
With that in mind, Maia is confident that a win over a high-level opponent in Andrade could be enough to guarantee another shot at the gold.
“It would be good to fight Jessica and create another chance [for the belt] because Jessica is at the top, she’s doing well,” Maia said. “And it would be excellence for me to have another chance [at Shevchenko].”
If Maia gets another crack at the flyweight queen, she promises to replicate her strategy in the second round at UFC 255, when she won by 10-9 in all scorecards. Shevchenko won the other four rounds to get the unanimous decision victory.
“The second round was the one where I was able to win against Valentina,” Maia said. “So I would study that real hard and try to do that in every round, try to start strong and win the first couple of rounds so I don’t have to come back in the later rounds.”