Tatiana Suarez appears destined to challenge for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gold.
The undefeated 10-0 wrestling sensation, Suarez, first captivated mixed martial arts (MMA) audiences by running through The Ultimate Fighter 23 (TUF), winning the season with a first round d’arce choke over Amanda Bobby Cooper. Seven years later and Suarez is closer than ever to challenging for her first world title.
Suarez earned a second round guillotine choke (watch highlights) against her second former UFC champion, Jessica Andrade, at UFC Nashville this past weekend (Aug. 5, 2023). The win has positioned the 32-year-old right alongside Yan Xioanan as the top two contenders in the 115-pound division, awaiting to see what happens between the champion, Zhang Weili, and the next challenger, Amanda Lemos, at UFC 292 next weekend (Sat., Aug. 19, 2023). While the champion has to get through Lemos first, Suarez has already had brief interactions with her potential future foe.
“I guess the closest thing she has maybe fought [to me] is Carla [Esparza],” Suarez told MiddleEasy. “I saw some things and not only that, Rose [Namajunas] kind of — not kind of, she out grappled her. That’s not unknown and I think she knows that when she sees me at the P.I. (Performance Institute) I think that’s probably going through her head. Like, ‘This girl’s a good wrestler.’
“She actually asked me when I started wrestling,” she continued. “I was like, ‘Three years old.’ So, I know that’s in her mind. Probably after this, [Lemos fight] that’s gonna be in her mind. She’s probably going to watch me every single time she goes into the sauna cause I see that she does that now. It’s okay, I’ll watch you in the sauna while you watch me in the sauna (laughs). It’s not mental, I just notice that she does it and it’s kind of funny.”
In terms of common opponents, Suarez and Zhang both finished Andrade and Esparza in impressive fashions. Suarez expects she’d do the same to Zhang in a fight against her and doesn’t at all feel slighted by any of the little tells she’s noticed when crossing paths.
“I think she just obsesses over it,” Suarez said. “Not that she cares where I’m at in the world, I just think she’s obsessing over her fight, which I don’t blame her. I do the same thing. She’s focused and that’s why she’s the champion. She’s trying to figure out where she can excel. I love that about her. I actually respect her a lot, she’s a great person. I can tell she’s very genuine.”