Tatiana Suarez looked every bit the part of future strawweight title contender at UFC 228.
“The Ultimate Fighter 23” winner dominated ex-champion Carla Esparza with her wrestling, landing multiple takedowns in each stanza en route to a clear-cut unanimous decision victory at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday. Other than Joanna Jedrzejczyk, no fighter had dominated Esparza the way Suarez did.
“Carla was my toughest opponent. Her wrestling is good, she never quits. I knew going into this fight that it would be a war, but I knew deep in my heart I was going to win,” Suarez said. “I’m a top contender; I just beat a former champion. I was born to fight and I want to keep getting better from here.”
Suarez, a former United States Olympic hopeful in freestyle wrestling, improved to 4-0 in the UFC and 7-0 as a professional overall with the victory. In addition to Esparza, the Milennia MMA member owns Octagon triumphs over Alexa Grasso, Viviane Pereira and Amanda Bobby Cooper. While the 27-year-old Californian is making big strides toward contending for 115-pound gold, she can also envision a change in weight class in her future.
“I got in there believing I’m really strong. I’ve worked on my wrestling since I was a kid and I have knockout power,” she said. “I think I’ll be at 115 until I get the belt and once I get the belt I’ll move to 125, but I really do not cut that much weight. I’m just taller.”
In the UFC 228 co-main event, Jessica Andrade likely secured her place as the top strawweight contender with a one-punch knockout of Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Suarez believes Kowalkiewicz — a former title challenger — would make make sense as her next opponent.
“If the UFC don’t give me the title shot I want to fight [Karolina]…I want to fight as soon as possible and keep this flow going,” Suarez said.