Undefeated UFC women’s strawweight Tatiana Suarez has provided an update on her long-awaited return to the Octagon following surgery in 2021.
Since 2019, Suarez has been an absent played on the women’s roster of MMA’s premier promotion. After emerging victorious in The Ultimate Fighter 23, the Californian established herself as a title contender with four victories, including over Nina Nunes, top-five flyweight Alexa Grasso, and #2-ranked strawweight and upcoming title challenger Carla Esparza.
After a torrid run of injuries that saw her suffer a broken hand and a concussion, as well as neck issues and chronic back pain, Suarez was stuck on the sidelines for over two years.
When she was finally set to return against Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 266 last September, yet another knee injury struck, forcing her to withdraw form the pay-per-view and undergo surgery.
Now eight months post-op and nearly three years on since her last outing, Suarez is approaching full training and looking ahead to her highly-anticipated return. During a recent interview with Helen Yee, the 31-year-old provided a timeline for that comeback.
“Recovery is going well. I am eight months, right now, post-op. I feel really good. I am thinking summer,” revealed Suarez. “I’m hoping maybe July. I’m crossing for maybe International Fight Week. That’s the 2nd right? Yeah, I would like that.”
Discussing what still needs to happen before she throws down inside the cage for the ninth time as a professional, Suarez admitted she’s still hesitant in a number of aspects following her injury.
Once her confidence reaches 100%, she’ll be calling the matchmakers and back putting her unblemished record on the line.
“I’m just trying to test my knee out. I’ve been doing a lot of grappling lately, which is crazy because I enjoyed grappling so I thought that would be the most mentally draining thing for me in terms of coming back, and a little bit weary,” added Suarez. “But I’ve even grappling every day, so I guess I’ve overcome that fear.
“I’m still a little bit reluctant in certain situations, and hesitant, but I’m feeling really good. The next step is doing some sparring and seeing how I hold up during sparring. Then, once I feel 100% confident, I’ll ask to book a fight. I’m hoping July,” Suarez concluded.
Suarez Looks To Test The Waters At 125
Despite fighting at strawweight since her first win in professional MMA and boasting a 5-0 UFC record at that weight, Suarez was set to make her first promotional appearance as a flyweight at UFC 266.
Suggesting that remains her goal in 2022, the elite wrestler broke down why she’s hoping to test the waters at 125 pounds before returning to her old stomping ground.
“Yeah, (flyweight debut is still the plan). The reason why I wanted to go flyweight for the next fight was because I had been out for a few years, and I just didn’t want to focus on any kind of weight cut,” said Suarez. “I just wanted to focus on fighting, at that point. Not that I’ve had big weight cuts in the past, but during COVID, I ended up packing on more muscle than usual. I felt like I didn’t wanna have to lose that muscle. Just wanted to focus on fighting… I wanted to feel super strong in there.
“I wanted to feel how I felt at 125, cause, eventually, I think I do wanna make the move up,” continued Suarez. “Say, when I get to the strawweight belt, I would wanna go up and test myself there as well, 125. So I figured, let’s see how I feel at 125. So I wanted to do maybe a couple fights at 125 and then go back down to 115 when I felt really comfortable.”
While her presence has been missing since 2019, it appears two divisions are about to get a whole lot more interesting with the addition of Tatiana Suarez to their upper echelons.
Who would you like to see Tatiana Suarez face when she returns to the Octagon later this year?