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Jennifer Maia: Manon Fiorot has ‘great potential’ but ‘hasn’t fought someone on my level’

MMA: UFC 264-Maia vs Eye
Jennifer Maia (right) defeated Jessica Eye via decision in 2021.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Manon Fiorot has been making waves in the MMA world since turning pro after winning the IMMAF title as an amateur in 2017, but Jennifer Maia wants to show there are levels to this sport.

Maia, a former Invicta FC flyweight champion who once challenged Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC throne, has only faced experienced veterans since joining the UFC in 2018, winning half of those fights.

Fiorot is unbeaten since dropping her pro MMA debut, just days before Maia made her first octagon appearance in 2018. Fiorot stopped Victoria Leonardo in her UFC debut before defeating Brazil’s Tabatha Ricci and Mayra Bueno Silva in 2021.

Now, they clash on the preliminary card of UFC Columbus, which goes down Saturday night at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

“I’ve been watching her most recent fights and she really has great potential,” Maia said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “However, she hasn’t fought someone on my level, a tougher athlete. She’s fought tough athletes, of course, but one of her fights was against a strawweight, and then against ‘Sheetara.’ This fight against me is a big test to see what’s her real level.”

For Maia, who lost a decision to Katlyn Chookagian in her most recent bout after defeating Jessica Eye, stopping a rising prospect might not put her in the mix for another shot at the gold, but is still a win to kick off her new four-fight deal with the UFC. Maia sees Fiorot as the “complete opposite” of Chookagian in terms of fighting style, which is “good.”

“She comes forward the entire time, and that’s good for me,” Maia said. “She has a different game, one I like, the striking, and I believe it can be a better fight for me because I’ll be able to show my striking. She likes to trade and doesn’t run from the fight.”

“[Winning by knockout] is something we always want going into a fight, but she’s a very tough opponent, so I can’t promise that,” she continued. “She’s on the rise, on an eight-fight winning streak, and has a lot of knockouts, too, but I don’t think she’s fought someone on my level yet. It’s hard to predict a knockout. I’ll go for it if I see the opportunity, of course, but I think we’re in for a war.”