One-time UFC flyweight title challenger Katyln Chookagian hopes she’ll still have a home in the UFC after revealing that the promotion declined to offer her a new contract before her UFC Vegas 46 win on Saturday night.
The last bout on Chookagian’s current contract was a dominant showcase as she earned a unanimous decision over Jennifer Maia to notch her third straight victory.
Afterward, she detailed her surprise when the UFC opted not to negotiate with her on a new deal ahead of time, which means she’s now a free agent.
“This was the last fight on my contract, and usually when you have one more, they renegotiate your contract,” Chookagian said during UFC Vegas 46’s post-fight press conference. “So when they offered this fight, I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m up for negotiation for a new contract,’ and they were like, ‘Oh no, we want you to fight this [contract] out.’
“That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to cut me, but it’s usually not good news. Hopefully with this performance, I’d like to think they want to keep me. I want to stay here. So hopefully I proved that tonight.”
Chookagian has been a mainstay on the UFC roster since 2016, and she’s been a perennial contender in the flyweight division ever since the promotion added the 125-pound weight class for women.
Over the past two years, Chookagian has only suffered losses to reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade, earning four wins in the division, including her current three-fight winning streak.
In theory, Chookagian should be climbing back into title contention. But now, she can’t help but wonder what will come next now that the UFC has allowed her to fight out her contract.
“I think the UFC needs to re-sign me before I think about [a title shot],” Chookagian said. “I’m on a three-fight win streak, all top-five opponents, so I would hope they re-sign me. They didn’t want to extend my contract before this fight, so hopefully I proved I belong here. I’m No. 2 in the division. I’ve been No. 2 or No. 1 for three or four years since the division started. I have as many wins as Valentina [Shevchenko]. I’ve beaten probably more top-10 fighters than any other fighter in the UFC, male or female. This is my 14th fight. I think all but two, maybe three, were all top-10 opponents.
“So I think I earned my spot here in the UFC. So hopefully I get that call next week. I just hope that I’m still a UFC fighter after this performance.”
Following the event, UFC President Dana White also addressed Chookagian’s status with the promotion while deferring to his matchmakers when it came to the decision to allow her to reach free agency rather than offering her a new deal ahead of Saturday night.
“I know that we went into this fight with her contract, it’s expired now,” White said. “She’s a free agent right now. I don’t know. That was between her and Mick [Maynard], he did that deal with her. So we’ll see what happens.”
Chookagian made it clear that her preference is to remain with the UFC, but if she doesn’t receive another offer, there are certainly other promotions such as Bellator currently promoting a women’s flyweight division.
This latest win certainly isn’t the end for her, so Chookagian will fight again. But whether or not that’s inside the UFC octagon remains to be seen.
“I’m a fighter,” Chookagian said. “I’ll keep fighting no matter what, but I want to stay in the UFC, for sure.”