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UFC 264’s Jennifer Maia believes she’s ‘two good performances’ away from Valentina Shevchenko rematch

Jennifer Maia looks to rebound from a decision loss to UFC champion Valentina Shevchenko in 2020.
Zuffa LLC, Getty Images

The UFC has yet to officially announce who will get the next crack at flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko, but Jennifer Maia doesn’t expect her to lose her crown any time soon.

Maia, who became one of the few women to win a round against “Bullet” in the UFC before losing a decision this past November at UFC 255, says she has gained “more experience and confidence in my game” after going five rounds with Shevchenko in Las Vegas.

“She’s very, very smart, an excellent athlete, out of the ordinary, but no one’s unbeatable,” Maia said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “She has something that, yes, time will come and she will lose. For now, at this moment, I don’t think anyone will win until I get another chance [against her].”

Maia returns to the eight-sided cage this Saturday in Las Vegas to face Jessica Eye, who also came up short in her attempt to defeat Shevchenko for the flyweight belt, in the preliminary portion of UFC 264.

Maia currently sits at No. 6 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings and is confident that a pair of solid victories would be enough to earn another shot at the gold.

“Winning this one well and another good one, I think I might get another chance because I was one of the few athletes that was able to go five rounds with Valentina,” she said. “I think I can have another opportunity with two good performances.”

The Chute Boxe talent was hoping for a quicker turnaround after losing a decision to Shevchenko in late-2020, but was forced to sit out when the company couldn’t book her in a match “that made sense.”

Eye, her opponent at UFC 264, is looking to rebound from consecutive losses to Joanne Calderwood and Cynthia Calvillo that dropped her to 1-3 in her last four appearances. Maia approved the match-up “because she has also fought for the belt and is very experienced.”

“She’s well-known in the UFC and is very well-rounded,” Maia said. “Since there was no one [ranked] ahead of me [available], we saw the options available and found Jessica Eye, someone who I hadn’t fought yet.

“She’s a high-level athlete, one of the best out there,” she added. “She’s had some highs and lows in her career but is still active. She’s very experienced, she’s in the UFC for a while now. She’s very complete, one of the toughest. She comes forward all the time and never retreats.”

Maia hopes to score her first knockout since joining the company this Saturday, and believes Eye’s style benefits that.

“I believe she will come to stand against me because that’s her style,” Maia said. “She likes to come forward the entire time. Striking is my essence and I don’t retreat. If she comes to strike, that’s what I love. I’m well-prepared if the fight goes to the ground, but a fight starts on the feet.

“I haven’t gotten a knockout [in the UFC] yet, so it would be very special.”