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Miranda Maverick believes grappling background could test champion Valentina Shevchenko

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Miranda Maverick has plenty of things going for her at a very young age.

Maverick, only 23, is in the UFC, is working towards her PhD in industrial psychology, and is a teaching assistant. But perhaps the most impressive thing about the surging 125er is her ability to incredibly organized and focused on everything going on.

She returns to the octagon for her sophomore appearance this Saturday when she meets Gillian Robertson at UFC 258. The event takes place at UFC APEX in Las Vegas and will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns.

In her promotional debut, the Invicta Phoenix Series 2 tournament winner earned a first-round doctor’s stoppage TKO win over Liana Jojua at UFC 254. As noteworthy as her performance was, it was her post-fight scrum with the media that got a lot of attention as she laid out plans for the future—including making sure she doesn’t join that list of fighters who stuck around longer than they should have.

“I’m kind of freakishly planned out about everything, whether it be current or future,” Maverick told MMA Fighting following her UFC 254 win. “I’m very good at planning out what I want with my life, what I want with my career, and it’s funny that some people took offense to me saying that unlike a lot of fighters, I have a backdrop. I wasn’t meaning that to be insulting, necessarily, but I want an education. I want to have other career paths if my knee gets messed up in a fight, I won’t have to struggle along for the rest of my life trying to make a living. I want to have a good future financially.

“I want to be done fighting by the time I’m in my early 30’s. I don’t want to be like, ‘I’m top-50, yay,’ when I’m 35 years old—like a few people I know do. They’re really excited to be recognized at that age. And for me, I’m 23. I want to be in the top-10 by the time I’m 24, at least. I’m ready to get to the top, make my mark, make my money and move on with my life. I don’t want to get brain damage, I don’t want to just have that one thing going for me when I’m ready to have a family, kids and things, and not have to go back to fighting to make a living. So I want to be done fighting when I’m in my early 30’s and move on to other things.”

Maverick will look to make it seven straight wins as she takes on a fellow flyweight divisional prospect in Robertson. “Savage” recently had her two-fight winning streak snapped by Taila Santos at UFC Vegas 17 in December and hopes to avoid dropping consecutive fights for the first time in her carer.

For Maverick, each win gets her a step closer to her lofty goal in the fight game, becoming a world champion. Not only is it about getting the belt wrapped around her waist, but the idea of doing something that seems almost impossible in this division—defeating the reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko—is something that she has her eye on.

Of course, as is the case in the mixed martial arts world, Maverick stating that in her UFC 254 post-fight press conference led to people saying she called out the champion after one fight in the UFC, which was clearly not the case.

Still, it is still a fight Maverick can see happening by 2022.

“I certainly don’t think it’s the next fight, but hopefully in a few fights, within the next couple of years,” Maverick said. “It’s funny, people were picking on me, like, ‘Oh, another person calling out Valentina.’ I didn’t really call her out, that’s just where I want to be at some point.

“But I think I have this grappling background that is almost stronger than every other girl in this division where I can go in there and wrestle them, use my jiu-jitsu and get finishes. They didn’t talk about that a lot in my last fight, which I found amusing just because Jojua has this background, and how many finishes she had by armbar, and I was like, ‘Nobody’s talking about the five finishes I have with the armbar, rear-naked choke and everything else?’

“That aside, I don’t think anybody has pushed Valentina in her grappling at all. People always wait until they’re dead tired to try and take her down. Like, ‘Oh, it’s Round 2, maybe I can try and take her to the ground because I just got beat up for a whole round.’ Why not take her down in the first round, or at least test her skills there? Nobody even seems to want to go to the ground with her. It’s like this competition where they think, ‘Well she’s a good striker so I want to show that I am, too.’ That’s not the fighting world. You need to go in there and win a fight.”