A rematch between former flyweight title contenders is set for Saturday when Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia violently reacquaint themselves on the main card of UFC on ESPN 32. We break it down with our top Chookagian-Maia UFC picks.
The first time these two women met in the Octagon, the winner immediately got a title shot. That’ll likely happen again on Saturday.
When the two squared off at UFC 244 in 2019, Chookagian used a superior, varied striking attack en route to a clear, hard-fought unanimous decision victory. That win was a launching pad for Chookagian, who went on to lose via third-round TKO to 125-pound champion Valentina Shevchenko three months later in the co-main event of UFC 247.
Maia, too, failed in her attempt to wrest the title away from Shevchenko. The Brazilian fell to “Bullet” via a lopsided unanimous decision at UFC 255 in November of 2020.
Chookagian vs. Maia Fight Info
Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NV
Chookagian vs. Maia Odds Analysis
The No. 2 flyweight, Chookagian opened as a -145 favorite, and that number has only dropped. She’s a -184 favorite with FanDuel, and a -180 favorite at DraftKings.
Those looking to back the live dog, the fourth-ranked Maia can be snatched up at +155 at DraftKings, and +148 at FanDuel.
Chookagian Betting Profile
If champion Shevchenko stands alone in a tier far above her contemporaries at 125 pounds, Chookagian is firmly established in the second tier.
The “Blonde Fighter” is 3-1 since falling to the champ, notching unanimous decision victories over Cynthia Calvillo, Viviane Araujo, and the champion’s sister, Antonina Shevchenko.
Chookagian’s lone loss during that stretch came at the hands of former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade, who also lost her eventual flyweight title bout six months later. The former CFFC champion is 9-4 in her UFC career and 16-4 overall in her MMA career.
A rangy striker, Chookagian will likely look to use her length to stymie Maia from the outside, much the same way she did in their first bout.
Maia Betting Profile
Much like Chookagian, Maia is firmly entrenched in the second tier of the flyweight division.
Just over a year after her loss to Chookagian, Maia earned a title shot. She first earned a submission victory over division stalwart Joanne Wood (then Calderwood). Again, like Chookagian, Maia fell short in her quest to unseat the champion.
From there, the former Invicta title holder successfully restarted her climb up the 125-pound ladder with a decision victory over former fellow title contender Jessica Eye. The win over Eye pushed Maia’s UFC record to 4-3, and her overall MMA record to 19-7-1.
With a complete dearth of legitimate title contenders at flyweight, Maia, like Chookagian, will likely be considered for another title shot should she emerge victorious on Saturday night.
Chookagian vs. Maia Picks
To win: Chookagian (-180 via DraftKings) ★★★★
Winning method: Chookagian by decision (-110 via FanDuel) ★★★
SEE ALSO: Kattar vs. Chikadze Picks
Chookagian vs. Maia Predictions
Although both women have improved dramatically since their initial meeting, the blueprint for victory remains the same for Chookagian.
The New Jersey native will avoid grappling exchanges, and instead, use her range/reach to pepper the Brazilian with strikes from the outside. Once safely on the outside, Chookagian will pile up the points with her jab, and consistent kicks to the body and legs.
It won’t be pretty, but it’ll be enough to win via …
Chookagian by decision (-110)
Every single one of Chookagian’s wins inside the Octagon has come via decision. Hell, 13 of her 16 career victories have gone the distance.
That trend isn’t about to change on Saturday. Chookagian will pick Maia apart from the outside over 15 minutes en route to a relatively boring, but ultimately effective, unanimous decision victory.
Kattar-Chikadze picks made 1/12/2022 at 10:29 p.m. ET.