Jennifer Maia proved she’s still an elite flyweight as the one time title challenger handed Casey O’Neill the first loss of her career at UFC 286.
The story in the fight really came down to Maia’s boxing over the first two rounds as she consistently landed the better punches while O’Neill was stuck playing catchup during many of the exchanges. O’Neill finally came alive in the third round but she couldn’t do enough to turn the tables as Maia secured the victory.
The judges ultimately scored the fight 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 as Maia got the win and O’Neill falls from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Despite her prowess as a grappler, Maia looked comfortable throwing hands with O’Neill while landing several stiff right hands early and establishing her jab. O’Neill continued to march forward as she looked to set up her own combinations but she was starting to wear some of that damage on her face as blood began trickling down her nose.
As she bounced on her feet and kept constant movement, Maia was making O’Neill chase her as she continued throwing and landing two and three punches in succession. O’Neill was also ducking her head to one side or the other whenever she was launching her strikes, which allowed Maia to time her counters.
Maia was sticking to a particular series of punches that continued to land on target and O’Neill wasn’t forcing her to alter that plan of attack. To her credit, O’Neill did start to realize that she was likely down on the cards, which forced her to get more aggressive and create more volume with her strikes.
The third round was definitely O’Neill at her best but it was too little, too late.
Maia has now picked up back-to-back wins with a 2-2 record overall in her past four fights while O’Neill suffers defeat for the first time her career while dropping to 4-1 in the UFC.