Dubai: Katlyn Chookagian, the No. 1 ranked UFC women’s flyghtweight contender, sounded dead serious about defeating former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade when the two meet at UFC Fight Island 6 on Sunday.
While a clearer picture will emerge on the day, Chookagian was bristling with confidence as she talked up her chances of winning during an exclusive interview with Gulf News on Wednesday.
With the May 30 victory over Antonina Shevchenko still fresh in her mind, Chookagian knows she is well-placed to push for a title shot and is unwilling to waste this opportunity to prove she is one the best all-round MMA fighters in the women’s rankings.
“I think I’m going to win,” she said. “If it goes to the ground I’m capable of submitting her from any position, I definitely have the power to go to the body and I have great head kicks and volume. I can see her quitting.”
Chookagian, who is an American of Armenian descent, has gone from strength to strength since she made her UFC debut back in July 2016 when she recorded a points decision victory over Lauren Murphy.
Steadily picking off top-class opponents such as Irene Aldana, Mara Romero Borella, Jennifer Maia, Joanna Calderwood and Antonina Shevchenko, the sister of world champion Valentia, she has thrust herself into the upper echelons of the flyweight division where she is tied for the most wins (five) with Valentia and Gillian Robertson.
Looking back on her career and rise to the top, Chookagian said: “Each fight you kinda learn and in my last fight (Antonina Shevchenko) I was able to execute a lot of my wrestling and jiu-jitsu which maybe a lot of people did not know I could do.
“So it kinda gave me confidence in showing that part of my game that I knew I had but other people did not. So it definitely gave me a lot of confidence.
“In each fight camp you just learn more and get better each time.”
“I’m No. 1 for a reason,” Chookagian said, making her point. “You have to know that you don’t get there just like that. Besides beating people and doing well you have to have the confidence that throughout the years you have grown stronger and better and that’s a huge factor and that’s changed for me.”
The 31-year-old Pennsylvania native said she is not concerned with Andrade moving up from strawweight (115lb) to flyweight (125lb) to fight her.
“I’m just taking it as another fight,” she said. “I’m not concerned with her size or speed or anything. I just want to stay focused. I’m prepared to face the strongest and the fastest Andrade.”
How does she anticipate the fight will pan out? “I see it being mostly standup but if it goes to the ground there’s nothing wrong with that,” she said. “I don’t see anything in her that I don’t see on a daily basis in the gym. So I’m prepared, and as I showed in my last fight, I’m definitely a well-rounded fighter,” she added.
“You’re going to see the best version of myself. I’m going to be moving, I have good cardio, non-stop movement and I not t going to get tired. I’m going to keep punching, keep kicking, all the different stuff. I feel super prepared and deadly excited.”