Katlyn Chookagian has been one of the most consistent fighters on the UFC roster, but after Saturday, she may no longer have a job with the promotion.
Heading into her flyweight bout with Jennifer Maia, Chookagian was entering the final fight of her contract. Typically, the UFC will work to renew contracts prior to the final bout, but Chookagian revealed that that was not the case for her during Saturday’s post-fight press conference.
Earning A Spot
“This was the last fight on my contract, and usually, when you have one more, they renegotiate your contract,” Chookagian said during UFC Vegas 46’s post-fight press conference. “So when they offered this fight, I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m up for negotiation for a new contract,’ and they were like, ‘Oh no, we want you to fight this [contract] out.’
“That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to cut me, but it’s usually not good news. Hopefully with this performance, I’d like to think they want to keep me. I want to stay here. So hopefully I proved that tonight.”
Chookagian (17-4) has been a perennial contender since debuting for the UFC in 2016. “Blonde Fighter” earned a shot at reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 247. She lost that bout in the first round. Since then, she is 4-1 and on a three-fight win streak with her unanimous decision victory over Maia on Saturday.
“I think the UFC needs to re-sign me before I think about [a title shot],” Chookagian said. “I’m on a three-fight win streak, all top-five opponents, so I would hope they re-sign me. They didn’t want to extend my contract before this fight, so hopefully, I proved I belong here. I’m No. 2 in the division. I’ve been No. 2 or No. 1 for three or four years since the division started. I have as many wins as Valentina [Shevchenko]. I’ve beaten probably more top-10 fighters than any other fighter in the UFC, male or female. This is my 14th fight. I think all but two, maybe three were all top-10 opponents.
“So I think I earned my spot here in the UFC. So hopefully, I get that call next week. I just hope that I’m still a UFC fighter after this performance.”
Up In The Air
During the post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White was asked about Chookagian’s status. “I know that we went into this fight with her contract, it’s expired now,” White said. “She’s a free agent right now. I don’t know. That was between her and Mick [Maynard], he did that deal with her. So we’ll see what happens.”
It’s almost crazy to think the UFC would release a fighter who has been as successful as Chookagian, but some criticism has been thrown her way over a lack of finishes. In fact, Chookagian has never finished an opponent inside the Octagon and entered the UFC record books on Saturday with ten straight victories via decision.
In a business that’s all about killer instinct and making a big impression, the UFC may not jump to re-sign Chookagian. She is capable of beating anyone in the flyweight division, with the exception of Shevchenko, and there is likely little interest from a fan or business perspective of seeing the two rematch.
Should the UFC opt to part ways with Chookagian, the likeliest scenario is for her to sign with Bellator, who has an active women’s flyweight division. There, Chookagian could partake in many intriguing match-ups against Kana Watanabe, Denise Kielholtz, Ilima-Lei MacFarlane, and reigning champion Julianna Velasquez.
“I’m a fighter,” Chookagian said. “I’ll keep fighting no matter what, but I want to stay in the UFC, for sure.”
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