Tatiana Suarez: The Strawweight Division’s Worst Nightmare

Tatiana Suarez
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 08: Tatiana Suarez enters the arena prior to facing Carla Esparza in their women's strawweight fight during the UFC 228 event at American Airlines Center on September 8, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

28-year-old American phenom Tatiana Suarez is the strawweight division’s worst nightmare. At a solid 7-0, the TUF 23 champion has put the whole division on notice with her relentless wrestling style. Having defeated a former UFC champion in dominant fashion, we take a look at the career of Tatiana Suarez and see why she’s poised to be a titleholder herself in the near future.

Tatiana Suarez Early Career

Born in California, Suarez began wrestling at a young age. Having made the USA World team, she picked up a bronze medal in both the 2008 and 2010 World Championships in freestyle wrestling.

Following an illustrious wrestling career, Suarez made a successful 2-0 start in MMA as an amateur. With such a strong wrestling background, which many women were unable to match, she quickly made her professional debut. At 3-0 as a professional, including two finishes, Suarez entered The Ultimate Fighter house for Season 23.

The first pick on team Claudia Gadelha, the wrestling sensation was a clear talent within the house. After defeating team Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s first pick JJ Aldrich in their first-round bout, Suarez was matched against wily veteran Kate Jackson. Suarez finished Jackson with a guillotine choke in the first round and progressed to the final.

Tatiana Suarez met Amanda Cooper in the final of TUF 23. Entering the fight a slight favourite, Suarez lived up to the hype. Taking Cooper down in just 10 seconds, Suarez was able to largely dominate the fight. Landing heavy ground and pound throughout, Suarez softened up Cooper. She was eventually able to snatch a D’Arce choke in a scramble and secure the victory.

Life in the UFC

Coming off the Ultimate Fighter, Suarez picked up two more victories in the UFC. Going to a decision for the first time since her professional debut, she defeated Viviane Pereira via unanimous decision. She was next put in a co-main event bout at UFC Fight Night 129 against fellow highly-touted prospect Alexa Grasso. In what was one of MMASucka’s standout performances, Suarez defeated Grasso by first round rear naked choke. At 6-0 as a professional, it was time for a step up in class for Tatiana Suarez.

At UFC 228, Suarez headlined the FX preliminary card against former champion Carla Esparza. Many expected Esparza to cause problems for Suarez due to her strong wrestling background. What came to fruition however proved just how good Suarez is. The favourite coming into the fight, Suarez mauled Esparza throughout. According to official UFC statistics, Esparza didn’t land a single shot on Suarez in the first round.

Suarez was able to out-land Esparza 34-0 in the striking department in that round. The second was closer; however, Suarez still out-landed Esparza 3:1 through the five minute round. Landing four takedowns in the second, it was clear Suarez was dominating the former champion. The third picked up where the first two rounds left off, with total domination from Suarez. Landing yet more takedowns and ground and pound, referee Kerry Hatley stepped in and saved Esparza.

The fight ended with Suarez having landed nine takedowns and 136 total strikes, of which 82 were significant. It was clear to all now that Tatiana Suarez would be a handful for any woman in the strawweight division. Calling out then champion Rose Namajunas, Suarez knows what she wants. She’s taking the necessary steps to get there and is in a brilliant position to do so.

What’s next?

Tatiana Suarez’s next fight is lined up for UFC 238 against fellow top contender Nina Ansaroff. Undefeated since 2016, Ansaroff is riding an impressive four-fight win streak. Ansaroff holds wins over top contenders Angela Hill, Randa Markos and most recently Claudia Gadelha. Upsetting Gadelha at UFC 231, Ansaroff is riding a lot of momentum, hoping to follow in the footsteps of her fiancee, UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes.

In what many are seeing as a title eliminator, this is a classic striker vs. grappler match up. The wrestling prowess of Tatiana Suarez engulfs her opponents and with her relentless ground and pound, she is a nightmare match-up for most of the division. Ansaroff holds a 3rd-degree black belt in Taekwondo, which was on display in her bout at UFC 231. If Ansaroff can keep this one standing, she could edge out the victory. Most predict however that Suarez will have her way with Ansaroff, which is why she’s opened as a heavy favourite. The winner of this fight is likely to meet newly crowned strawweight champion Jessica Andrade. Both offer alternative puzzles for the champion to solve, however many have predicted Tatiana Suarez to be the UFC champion in the near future.

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