Officially back in UFC title hunt, undefeated MMA vet Tatiana Suarez knows who she wants to fight – and who she doesn’t.
Asked about potential matchups, Suarez welcomed a fight with two-time strawweight champ Rose Namajunas, her soon-to-be colleague at 115 pounds after her successful test at 125 pounds.
“I’m not scared to fight the best people, because that means I’m the best, so I would love to fight somebody like Rose,” said Suarez at the UFC Vegas 70 post-event press conference after her second-round submission win over Montana De La Rosa. “She’s amazing striker. She’s amazing martial artist. She, too, has overcome a lot of things in her life and I respect her as a person.
“So when I say that I want to fight them, it’s really not disrespect. I’m not trying to be disrespectful. I just think that, I want to fight all the great people, you know what I mean? And it’s out of respect that I want to do that. I feel like it’s an honor to share a cage with somebody.”
Suarez returned from a nearly four-year layoff courtesy of neck and knee injuries. When she left the 115-pound division, she was widely thought to be in the hunt for a title shot. Her win over De La Rosa left her with options for her next challenge. But she’d prefer not to re-tread old ground, brushing off a question about a rematch with ex-champ Carla Esparza, whom she soundly defeated at UFC 228.
“I don’t think anybody wants to see me fight carla again,” she laughed. “Let’s be real like, it’s like, I would catch a case twice. No, we’re not doing that. [I’m] not saying that she hasn’t improved, but I just think that you saw the first fight, I don’t even think that there would be anything different about the second fight with Carla. So let’s just not do that one.”
UFC President Dana White is unsure about where Suarez fits, but he’s thoroughly impressed by her comeback.
“We’ll see where she ends up in the rankings and get a couple more fights under her belt and see what happens,” he said. “There is no doubt ... she’s one of the best in the world. There was a lot of talk on the internet and a lot of hype about her coming back tonight. A lot of people are excited to see how she was gonna handle adversity again, and she came out looking awesome.”
One thing was clear after Suarez’s dominant win: She works better with personal feelings invested in her fights. De La Rosa downplayed the hype she brought into the octagon by saying she had outwrestled smaller opponents in previous fights. She took that to heart.
“Montana is tough, and I was really honored to share the cage with her, because she has a lot of fights, and she accepts really difficult fights, and I really respect her for getting in the cage with me. I respect anybody who gets in the cage with me regardless of what they say about me. I think maybe she said a couple of things that maybe I didn’t like, but I was like, whatever. I did take it to heart a little bit, but then I was like, maybe it’s gonna build her up or whatever, make her feel a little bit better.
“I just try not to take things personally, but I am a woman, and I sometimes you get a little chip on the shoulder when someone says something about us. ... I think she said that maybe because everybody was so small that I could only wrestle them because they were small. Well, she’s 125-pounder, and I wrestled her and not only that, but I trained people with people much bigger than her at practice and I can take them down.”