Tatiana Suarez is gearing up for her long-awaited return to the UFC, but still has some challenges to overcome before stepping back inside the Octagon.
Suarez, who has been touted by many as a sure-fire future champion since emerging victorious on season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter, has been out of action for three years.
Since extending her unblemished record to 8-0 with a victory over Nina Nunes in 2019, the Californian has been nursing an abundance of injuries, most recently knee damage that required surgery and forced her out of a planned return at UFC 266 last September.
Now, having moved within touching distance of the final checkpoint on her road to recovery, Suarez is looking ahead to her comeback.
Having initially targeted a summer appearance next month, a small setback has forced Suarez to push back her planned return, with September or October now looking more likely.
That may be a blessing in disguise, however, as it’s allowed her to pinpoint four potential opponents, with her sights being set on two July 2 matchups: Miesha Tate vs. Lauren Murphy and Jessica Eye vs. Maycee Barber.
In order to recover in time to face one of the victors, Suarez says it’s key that she controls her training and manages her knee appropriately, something she believes will be her biggest challenge ahead of a much-anticipated return.
“The other day, I was having a bad day and then I was like, ‘My knee is kinda swollen,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t really care.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to MMA grappling and I’m gonna beat everyone’s ass,’” Suarez said with a laugh “Then I went and I did just that. But I needed it,” said Suarez during an appearance on The Schmozone podcast.
“I just need to be smart… I think that’s gonna be the struggle for me, because I like to go crazy. So like, I have to just be calm and maybe (train) with people, especially right now, when I’m just coming back, where I can fully control everything and stuff like that,” added Suarez. “A lot of times, I’ll pick the best person in the room, the best guy, and all of a sudden we’re in hard scrambles. It’s just not ideal for my knee… I don’t need that right now. I need control.”
Having previously established herself as a contender at strawweight, where she recorded a victory over current queen Carla Esparza, Suarez will look to do the same when she makes her flyweight debut upon her return.
Although she believes in her abilities to attain champ-champ status, the 31-year-old has admitted to wanting to avoid a 115-pound weight cut when she makes her comeback. Should she feel comfortable at 125 pounds, perhaps strawweight success will be put on hold while the talented grappler targets Valentina Shevchenko’s gold first.
How do you think Tatiana Suarez will fare when she makes her return to the Octagon?