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Morning Report: Tatiana Suarez feels Carla Esparza doesn’t have ‘the strength’ to beat Rose Namajunas, eyes summer return

UFC 228 Woodley v Till Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Tatiana Suarez quickly became one of the most feared women on the UFC roster following her promotional debut in July 2016. Winning The Ultimate Fighter season 23 with a first-round d’arce choke against Amanda Brundage, Suarez progressed through the strawweight division smashing her way to a perfect 8-0 record.

Directly before her most recent outing, Suarez dominated the division’s inaugural champion, Carla Esparza en route to a late TKO stoppage in the third round. The loss was Esparza’s last and she’s since won five straight to earn her second career opportunity at UFC gold in a rematch at UFC 274 with the woman she won it against in Dec. 2014, Rose Namajunas.

“I think that Rose is gonna win,” Suarez told Helen Yee. “I just think that Rose maybe has better grappling now than she did when they first went against each other. I did face Carla, nothing against Carla, but I don’t feel like she has the strength. When I fought her, I didn’t feel she was super strong or anything like that. I’ve never fought Rose so I can’t really compare the two but I do feel like I saw her grappling exchanges with Zhang [Weili] and she seemed like she made improvements and actually beat her in the grappling exchanges and that’s how she ended up winning. So I think she’s improved a little bit in that area and I don’t think that Carla — she has the technique but I don’t think she necessarily has the strength. I think it might look similar to the Joanna [Jedrzejczyk] fight.”

For Suarez, she last stepped foot in the octagon when earning a unanimous decision win over Nina Nunes at UFC 238 in June 2019. Suffering from a neck injury that she went into the fight with, injuries have continued to plague the wrestling sensation.

A flyweight bout with Roxanne Modafferi was booked for UFC 266 in Sept. 2021. Unfortunately, Suarez injured her knee which led to her withdrawal and surgery. She is now eight months post-operation and is feeling good and healthy.

“I’m thinking the summer. I’m hoping maybe July, I’m crossing [my fingers] for maybe International Fight Week,” Suarez said of when she wants to return to action. “I would like that. I’m just trying to test my knee out. I’ve been doing a lot of grappling lately which is crazy because I injured it grappling so I thought that would be the most mentally draining thing for me in terms of coming back and maybe being a little bit weary. But I’ve been grappling almost every single day. So I guess I’ve overcome that fear. I’m still a little bit reluctant and hesitant in certain situations but I’m feeling really good and the next step is just to do some sparring and see how it holds up during sparring. Then once I feel 100 percent confident, I’ll ask to book a fight.”

Suarez competed exclusively as a 125-pound flyweight before joining the UFC. Her idea for going back up specifically revolved around the idea of not wanting to have any focus put on weight cutting after the extended period away. Her hope was to maybe do a couple of fights there and go back down to 115 pounds when she felt comfortable enough.

Despite her absence, Suarez still has full confidence that she can become the second female dual-division champion in UFC history.

“I think I have the skills to do it,” Suarez said. “I think people always say, ‘You have some of the best wrestling,’ or ‘You’re one of the best wrestlers out there. You could be one of the best.’ 100 percent without a doubt in my mind, I am the best wrestler in women’s MMA. From featherweight to strawweight, I believe I could beat anyone in wrestling in terms of that skill set. I think that is something that can get me two belts just because I’m far ahead in that discipline.”


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If Tatiana never returns, it will be one of MMA’s greatest “what if?” stories. Hopefully, she can come back when she wants to. Thanks for reading!



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