Tatiana Suarez Heads Back on Injured List
There is a documentary set to debut soon about Tatiana Suarez’s return to the octagon after four years away from the sport due to injury and illness. However, the producers may want to hold off on publishing the project. Otherwise, they may make a second part in a few years.
Suarez announced recently that she had to pull out of her UFC 298 bout with Amanda Lemos due to an injury. While Suarez said in an Instagram post that the injury won’t have her out for long, her fans will need to keep their fingers crossed. Suarez, an undefeated strawweight contender, had to miss nearly four years of action due to injury.
Since returning in February 2023, Suarez has once again looked like the championship-caliber contender many believed she could be. But there will be a longer wait to see if Suarez can grab another victory. While there is disappointment in seeing Suarez out again, her UFC 298 opponent, Amanda Lemos, was able to find a short-notice replacement, according to the best MMA news site.
Dern Will Replace Suarez
Lemos was supposed to take on Suarez. Instead, the No. 2-ranked contender will have Mackenzie Dern, who is ranked No. 8, to contend with. One thing that will be nice for Lemos is that her training may be fine with adjusting. Dern, like Suarez, is a fighter who prefers to be on the mat to rely on her submission skills.
Dern may be easier for Lemos to deal with. Dern isn’t as good a wrestler as Suarez and sometimes can struggle to get top competition to the ground. Lemos is coming off a loss to Zhang Weili in a fight for the UFC strawweight title.
MMAfighting latest news updates said Lemos struggled to handle Weili’s wrestling and will need to do better on the mat against Dern. Ideally, the fight would never reach the floor for Lemos. If things go to the mat, Lemos could be in for a world of hurt against Dern.
Suarez’s Injury History Predates MMA Career
Suarez’s first goal in her combat sports career wasn’t necessarily to be a UFC champion. Like many younger wrestlers, Suarez had dreams of representing the U.S. women’s team at the 2012 Olympics in London. But a neck injury sidelined her Olympic hopes.
Suarez had earned a bronze medal at the 2008 and 2010 world championships for women’s freestyle wrestling. Had Suarez been able to compete, she would have likely been in the medal contention for the Olympics. But Suarez’s injury went beyond just having an injured neck.
Scans of her body showed she had thyroid cancer and needed to have several lymph nodes removed.
Quick Stint as Amateur Fighter leads to TUF House
Suarez’s wrestling background made finding opponents in MMA on the amateur circuit a tough task for her team. Few women at the amateur MMA level boasted her grappling credentials. After a few amateur fights, she would make her professional MMA debut in July 2014 at the Gladiator Challenge.
Suarez won all three fights in the Gladiator Challenge California Championship series to claim the flyweight championship. Thanks to her impressive early fights, Suarez had two finishes, and she caught the eye of the UFC. The promotion invited her to fight Chel-C Bailey for a spot in the Ultimate Fighter House. Suarez won an impressive decision and went on to win the strawweight tournament with a first-round submission win over Amanda Cooper in her UFC debut in July 2016.
Racking Up Impressive Wins
While Suarez has only fought seven times in the UFC, her resume is already more impressive than many other ranked contenders. Suarez has a submission win over current flyweight champion Alexa Grasso. She also knocked out former strawweight champion Carla Esparza back in September 2018.
When neither Grasso nor Esparza were champions when they fought Suarez, the results of both fights have aged well. Suarez’s last fight during her first run with the UFC was a dominant decision win over Nina Ansaroff that moved Suarez to 8-0 in her career.
Betrayed by Her Body
Following the win over Ansaroff, there was a real push to get Suarez, another top contender, to propel her to a title shot. But following the win, Suarez again started having recurring neck pain. That discomfort would lead to an extended absence from the sport for Suarez.
Suarez wouldn’t return until February 2023, when she faced Montana De La Rosa. It was the first of two dominant wins for Suarez. Suarez also beat former champion Jéssica Andrade by submission in August, according to MMA news sites.
Opportunities to Fight for the Strawweight Title Will Exist
Suarez won’t have to worry about falling too far from the title picture. Weili has already been booked to fight against countrywoman Yan Xiaonan at UFC 300. If the injury Suarez sustained isn’t serious, like she said in her social media posts, there is a chance Suarez could be next in line for the crown. Suarez is ranked No. 3 at strawweight now.
Xiaonan is the No. 2 contender and will fight Weili at UFC 300. If the match is close and the UFC wants a rematch, that could hold up the division. However, there aren’t many candidates more willing to Suarez than to get shot at whoever is the champion.
Suarez already won over the No. 1 contender, Esparza, and the No. 5 contender, Andrade. All Suarez needs to do is find a way to stay healthy for an extended period. Suarez, 30, is still young and heals fast. However, Suarez may see the ability to bounce back from injuries get more difficult as she gets older.
Lemos likely won’t pass Suarez in the rankings, barring a spectacular against Dern. There is always the probability that Dern will be involved in a wild fight. Dern suffered her first career knockout against Andrade last November.
Dern will need to shake off the cobwebs quickly to win this one. Suarez has spent a half-decade dusting off cobwebs. She’s ready to find a way to get back into the octagon more consistently so she can deliver on her championship potential.
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By Dean McHugh.