Jennifer Maia made the most of a huge opportunity in the co-main event at UFC Vegas 5.
After her original opponent fell off the card less than two weeks ago, Maia was ultimately matched up with Joanne Calderwood, who accepted the fight despite previously being granted a title shot against reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Maia then made quick work of Calderwood after wrapping up an armbar in the first round, and now it appears that impressive victory will pay off with a title shot of her own.
“Yeah, that’s the fight,” UFC President Dana White, confirming Maia receiving the next crack at Shevchenko’s title at the post-fight press conference
“I have a lot of respect for [Joanne Calderwood], she’s been working hard, taking her career very serious and has been back on track since she moved to Vegas. Jennifer looked damn good tonight so it makes sense for her and Valentina to fight.”
Within seconds of Maia having her hand raised, Shevchenko was quick to pull the trigger on a message to the new No. 1 contender in the division.
“See you soon, Jennifer Maia,” Shevchenko wrote on Twitter.
Since moving to 125 pounds, Shevchenko has looked unbeatable, running roughshod over every contender in the division. Chances are good that she’ll be an overwhelming favorite against Maia as well, but the Brazilian knows the flyweight champion won’t look past her when it comes time to fight.
“I think ‘Jojo’ underestimated me a little bit,” Maia explained. “She had a fight for the title, and then she got a short notice [fight] in two weeks. I think she did underestimate me a little bit.
“But I think Valentina is a smarter fighter. She’s the champion, and I think she’s going to study me very well. I don’t think she will underestimate me.”
Shevchenko is a daunting task for anybody to tackle, especially considering the only person to beat her in the UFC has been two-division champion Amanda Nunes in a pair of close fights.
That said, Maia is definitely ready to test herself against Shevchenko with a chance to pull off another upset just like her win over Calderwood on Saturday night.
“She’s very good everywhere but we’re going to find out when we fight,” Maia said about Shevchenko. ”I’m feeling very good, I’m feeling ready and we’re going to find out.”