LAS VEGAS – Tatiana Suarez is on hold.
Following a more than three-year layoff caused by neck and back issues, Suarez (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) returned to the UFC this year and picked up where she left off, winning two fights by submission in 2023.
The 32-year-old first choked out Montana De La Rosa in a flyweight bout this past February at UFC Fight Night 220. Then she followed that up last month by going back to strawweight and doing the same thing to former champ Jessica Andrade at UFC on ESPN 50.
Both fights earned Suarez Performance of the Night bonuses, so if there was ever a statement to be made about her title-shot worthiness, she made it. But Suarez is patiently waiting for the UFC to decide its next move and whether or not she or Yan Xiaonan will challenge strawweight champion Zhang Weili.
“They haven’t let me know yet,” Suarez said Friday during a Noche UFC Q&A session. “I know that they have Yan there, as well. I asked to do maybe a title eliminator with her. But, as of now, I’m just staying ready and getting better as a martial artist. When my time comes, I’ll be able to capitalize.”
When there are two or more deserving title challengers, sometimes the champ gets to pick. For her part, Weili said last month after her win over Taila Santos that she was open to fighting Suarez or fellow Chinese standout Xiaonan coming off back-to-back wins.
Working in Suarez’s favor is the fact that she was already on a tear before injury forced her to sit out for so long. Among undefeated Suarez’s victories prior to the layoff were back-to-back finishes of current flyweight champ Alexa Grasso (who defends her belt Saturday in a rematch with Valentina Shevchenko) and former strawweight champ Carla Esparza.