After finishing De La Rosa on her return, Tatiana Suarez targets strawweight title run

Tatiana Suarez reacts after her submission victory over Montana De La Rosa in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on...

Having secured a second-round submission win over Montana De La Rosa on Saturday, ending a 44-month layoff littered with injuries and setbacks, Tatiana Suarez is back. The unbeaten strawweight wants to return to her natural weight class, namechecking two-time champion Rose Namajunas as an opponent she seeks on her latest title charge.

Suarez surges back into strawweight title contention on long-awaited return

Tatiana Suarez secures a submission against Montana De La Rosa in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 25, 2023...
Suarez became the first in 10 to stop De La Rosa, up a weight class from her natural strawweight division

R2, 1:53 – Tatiana Suarez bt. Montana De La Rosa via submission (guillotine choke)

A commanding return win at flyweight notwithstanding, Tatiana Suarez secured a Performance of the Night bonus ($50,000) and is determined to become strawweight champion before long.

It’ll be interesting to see where she’s placed in tomorrow’s rankings update at 115lbs, considering she was previously ranked #2 after a UD win over #3-ranked Nina Ansaroff (née Nunes) at the time in her last appearance in June 2019.

Since then, there have been five different champions – three for a second time, including current titlist Zhang Weili, having blitzed Carla Esparza at UFC 281.

During the UFC Vegas 70 post-fight press conference, she said:

“I think they should give me a really good opponent at strawweight, and I’ll earn it. I’ve never been given anything in my life – always earned it – don’t mind doing that because that builds character.

You have to work for the things you want in your life, that’s how my mom and grandma raised me. I’m excited for whoever – Montana is tough, and I was glad to share the cage with her because she has a lot of fights and accepts very difficult fights. I really respect her for getting in the cage with me.”

She initially didn’t specify anyone but instead reaffirmed a desire to fight the toughest opponents, which would solidify her belief that she’s the best. Then after swatting away a Esparza rematch, she said this about Namajunas:

“I would love to fight someone like Rose: an amazing striker, amazing martial artist. She too has overcome a lot of things in her life, and I respect her as a person. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, it’s out of respect that I want to [fight the best]. I feel like it’s an honour to share the cage with somebody.”

Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White was mightily impressed with what he saw at the weekend. There were no questions of ring rust against a durable opponent in De La Rosa, who had never been stopped during her six-year UFC career to date.

The 28-year-old had suffered post-lockdown defeats by Maycee Barber and Viviane Araujo, both ranked flyweights who have previously flirted with the top table at 125lbs – they went the distance in UD victories. Suarez certainly didn’t need it.

“She looked incredible, especially with the time off. Everybody knows how I feel about that much time off. Plus the things that she battled personally, physically – and De La Rosa is badass – that’s a legit comeback fight.”

Avoiding a serious weight cut in her first fight back was the motivation for this flyweight matchup and while White is unsure about which opponent is next, they’ll book her accordingly with a prospective title shot in mind.

“We’ll see where she ends up in the rankings, get a couple more fights under the belt and see what happens. There’s no doubt she’s one of the world’s best, there was a lot of internet talk and hype about her comeback. A lot were excited to see her, how she’d handle adversity again, came out looking awesome.”

UFC Vegas 70 results, in full

Opponents Nikita Krylov of Ukraine and Ryan Spann face off during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on February 24, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The original main event – Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann – was cancelled as Krylov fell ill on fight day, the light-heavyweight matchup is being rescheduled for mid-March

Main card
Middleweight: Brendan Allen bt. Andre Muniz via R3 submission (rear-naked choke)
Women’s flyweight: Tatiana Suarez bt. Montana De La Rosa via R2 submission (guillotine choke)
Heavyweight: Augusto Sakai bt. Don’Tale Mayes via UD (30-27 x 3)
Welterweight: Mike Malott bt. Yohan Lainesse via R1 submission (arm-triangle choke)
Lightweight: Trevor Peek bt. Erick Goncalez via R1 KO (punches)
Women’s Flyweight: Jasmine Jasudavicius bt. Gabriella Fernandes via UD (30-26 x 3)
Lightweight: Jordan Leavitt bt. Victor Martinez via R1 TKO (knees and punches)
Catchweight (130lbs): Ode’ Osbourne bt. Charles Johnson via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x 2)
Lightweight: Joe Solecki bt. Carl Deaton III via R2 submission (rear-naked choke)
Lightweight: Nurullo Aliev bt. Rafael Alves via majority decision (29-27 x 2, 28-28)

Picture source: Getty Images, quotes via MMAjunkie