Morning Report: Tatiana Suarez feels Carla Esparza doesn’t have ‘the strength’ to beat Rose Namajunas, eyes summer return

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Tatiana Suarez quickly became one of the most feared women on the UFC roster following her promotional debut in July 2016. Winning The Ultimate Fighter season 23 with a first-round d’arce choke against Amanda Brundage, Suarez progressed through the strawweight division smashing her way to a perfect 8-0 record.

Directly before her most recent outing, Suarez dominated the division’s inaugural champion, Carla Esparza en route to a late TKO stoppage in the third round. The loss was Esparza’s last and she’s since won five straight to earn her second career opportunity at UFC gold in a rematch at UFC 274 with the woman she won it against in Dec. 2014, Rose Namajunas.

“I think that Rose is gonna win,” Suarez told Helen Yee. “I just think that Rose maybe has better grappling now than she did when they first went against each other. I did face Carla, nothing against Carla, but I don’t feel like she has the strength. When I fought her, I didn’t feel she was super strong or anything like that. I’ve never fought Rose so I can’t really compare the two but I do feel like I saw her grappling exchanges with Zhang [Weili] and she seemed like she made improvements and actually beat her in the grappling exchanges and that’s how she ended up winning. So I think she’s improved a little bit in that area and I don’t think that Carla — she has the technique but I don’t think she necessarily has the strength. I think it might look similar to the Joanna [Jedrzejczyk] fight.”

For Suarez, she last stepped foot in the octagon when earning a unanimous decision win over Nina Nunes at UFC 238 in June 2019. Suffering from a neck injury that she went into the fight with, injuries have continued to plague the wrestling sensation.

A flyweight bout with Roxanne Modafferi was booked for UFC 266 in Sept. 2021. Unfortunately, Suarez injured her knee which led to her withdrawal and surgery. She is now eight months post-operation and is feeling good and healthy.

“I’m thinking the summer. I’m hoping maybe July, I’m crossing [my fingers] for maybe International Fight Week,” Suarez said of when she wants to return to action. “I would like that. I’m just trying to test my knee out. I’ve been doing a lot of grappling lately which is crazy because I injured it grappling so I thought that would be the most mentally draining thing for me in terms of coming back and maybe being a little bit weary. But I’ve been grappling almost every single day. So I guess I’ve overcome that fear. I’m still a little bit reluctant and hesitant in certain situations but I’m feeling really good and the next step is just to do some sparring and see how it holds up during sparring. Then once I feel 100 percent confident, I’ll ask to book a fight.”

Suarez competed exclusively as a 125-pound flyweight before joining the UFC. Her idea for going back up specifically revolved around the idea of not wanting to have any focus put on weight cutting after the extended period away. Her hope was to maybe do a couple of fights there and go back down to 115 pounds when she felt comfortable enough.

Despite her absence, Suarez still has full confidence that she can become the second female dual-division champion in UFC history.

“I think I have the skills to do it,” Suarez said. “I think people always say, ‘You have some of the best wrestling,’ or ‘You’re one of the best wrestlers out there. You could be one of the best.’ 100 percent without a doubt in my mind, I am the best wrestler in women’s MMA. From featherweight to strawweight, I believe I could beat anyone in wrestling in terms of that skill set. I think that is something that can get me two belts just because I’m far ahead in that discipline.”

TOP STORIES

Beef. Conor McGregor blasts ‘little fat novice’ Henry Cejudo after workout critique.

Advice. Demetrious Johnson says Brandon Moreno shouldn’t get hung up on fourth Deiveson Figueiredo fight.

Frustration. Dricus Du Plessis rips Kelvin Gastelum for UFC 273 withdrawal: ‘He literally took food off my table.’

Persistence. Holly Holm ‘super frustrated’ after long layoff with injuries, health issues but scoffs at retirement rumors.

Rematch. Petr Yan responds to Aljamain Sterling’s ‘MMA Rulebook 4 Dummies’ jab: ‘He’s trying to earn the last big money of his life.’

VIDEO STEW

UFC 273 Embedded.

Mackenzie Dern interview.

Paul Felder and Michael Chiesa preview UFC 273.

The DC Check-in with Khamzat Chimaev.

Jan Blachowicz previews Burns vs. Chimaev.

Bellator 277 Fighters You Should Be Watching.

Behind The Scenes: Angela Lee Before & After Fighting Stamp Fairtex.

LISTEN UP

Fighter vs. Writer. MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin chats with Alan Jouban.

Heck of an Afternoon. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses whether or not Khamzat Chimaev leapfrogs Leon Edwards to a title fight with a UFC 273 win.

SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Ham’s coming for yet another title.

Ka-blam-o.

In Jeans

(Via @fightlunes on insta) pic.twitter.com/WmWvHlpphG

— FightClub (@fightclub) April 5, 2022

Paulo is permanently on one.

from gryffindor this is the most beloved wizard in Brazil. he’s toothless too pic.twitter.com/z9qKHv4tpo

— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) April 5, 2022

Champ.

Bros.

Give us just one more, Georges.

UFC 275 Hype.

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Kayla Harrison (12-0) vs. Marina Mokhnatkina (6-2); PFL 2022 3, May 6

Ray Cooper III (24-7-1) vs. Magomed Umalatov (11-0); PFL 2022 3, May 6

Anthony Pettis (24-12) vs. Myles Price (11-7); PFL 2022 3, May 6

Rory MacDonald (22-8-1) vs. Brett Cooper (28-15); PFL 2022 3, May 6

Magomed Magomedkerimov (29-6) vs. Joao Zeferino (26-9); PFL 2022 3, May 6

Genah Fabian (4-2) vs. Julia Budd (16-3); PFL 2022 3, May 6

FINAL THOUGHTS

If Tatiana never returns, it will be one of MMA’s greatest “what if?” stories. Hopefully, she can come back when she wants to. Thanks for reading!

EXIT POLL

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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