Rivalries: Katlyn Chookagian

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Katlyn Chookagian has set out on a most arduous journey, as she takes the long road of uncertainty back toward title contention in the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s flyweight division.

The 33-year-old Mark Henry protégé on Saturday will square off with former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Jennifer Maia when they rematch one another in the UFC on ESPN 32 co-feature at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Chookagian—who defeated Maia by unanimous decision in 2019—enters the cage on the strength of a two-fight winning streak. She last competed at UFC 262, where she outpointed Viviane Araujo across three rounds on May 15.

As Chookagian makes final preparations for her second encounter with Maia, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped shape her career:

Lauren Murphy

It did not take long for Chookagian to prove she belonged in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as she utilized a punishing jab, smooth lateral movement and occasional knees and kicks in capturing a unanimous decision over the former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder in the featured UFC Fight Night 91 prelim on July 13, 2016 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. All three cageside judges struck 29-28 scorecards. Chookagian’s jab was the story, as she met the oncoming Murphy with it over and over again during the 15-minute bout. Still, it was far from a flawless performance for the promotional newcomer. Chookagian had to overcome a near-disastrous second round, where she was taken down and absorbed ground-and-pound for more than three minutes. Murphy tried and failed to get it to the ground again in the third. Stuck on the feet, she could not match Chookagian’s skills.

Joanne Wood

Chookagian rebounded from a contentious defeat to Jessica Eye and continued to cement herself as a person of interest at 125 pounds when she took a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 20 quarterfinalist as part of the UFC 238 undercard on June 8, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago. Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Calderwood leaned heavily on low kicks and did significant damage to the inside of the former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder’s lead leg. Chookagian was undeterred, utilized occasional knees from the clinch and cut loose with two-, three- and four-punch combinations. Calderwood answered in spurts and even integrated a few takedowns, but her efforts went unrewarded on the scorecards.

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Valentina Shevchenko

“Bullet” retained the undisputed women’s flyweight championship in overwhelming fashion, as she stopped Chookagian with punches and elbows in the third round of their UFC 247 co-main event on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Toyota Center in Houston. The end came 63 seconds into Round 3. Shevchenko had a field day. The Tiger Muay Thai-trained superstar tore into Chookagian’s lead leg with kicks, assaulted her with blinding combinations and opened a cut above her left eye with a single elbow strike from inside the guard in the first round. The challenger’s situation only deteriorated from there. Shevchenko landed a wheel kick with surgical precision in the second round, delivered the second of her three takedowns and continued to chip away at her counterpart’s shaken resolve. Early in Round 3, she took down Chookagian for the final time, moved to side control and trapped her in a mounted crucifix before smashing away with unanswered punches and elbows to force the stoppage.

Jessica Andrade

The former women’s strawweight champion shined in her 125-pound debut, as she folded Chookagian with a pair of devasting right hooks to the body in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 180 co-headliner on Oct. 17, 2020 at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The “Blonde Fighter” ran out of rope 4:55 into Round 1. Andrade overwhelmed the Quakertown, Pennsylvania, native with power and pressure, bullying her way into the clinch and securing two takedowns. Late in the first round, she buried her fist into Chookagian’s midsection. The onetime Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder winced in noticeable pain, turned her back and retreated. Andrade gave chase and dropped Chookagian to her knees with another sweeping right hook to the body. By then, referee Lukasz Bosacki had seen enough. Advertisement


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