Jennifer Maia: A Cinderella story come true by earning a UFC title shot

Jennifer Maia

When UFC flyweight Jennifer Maia (18-6-1) found out her fight with Viviane Araujo was canceled for the second time it was bittersweet.

Maia was scheduled to fight Araujo on June 27 at UFC Vegas 5, but the bout was canceled after both participants faced travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fight was rescheduled for August 1 at UFC Vegas 6, however, Araujo tested positive for COVID-19 in the pre-fight screenings leading up to the event in Las Vegas and the fight was canceled again.

When Maia talked to The Scrap, the 31-year-old said she was happy that she didn’t have to fight Araujo, a fellow Brazilian, but was even happier when Joanne Calderwood agreed to step in on short notice.

“It had been a while since I saw the possibility of fighting ‘JoJo’.” Maia shared,
“She was third in the ranking, so I saw an excellent opportunity.”

Maia managed to take out Calderwood with an armbar in the first round. The quick win earned her the Performance of the Night award. When asked how she felt at the moment she won Maia said, “It was a feeling of relief. I had not yet been able to show my Jiu-Jitsu inside the UFC. Coming from several fights ended by points and this one being able to finish in the first round, felt very good.”

The Invicta FC alum explained her post-fight celebration after her win against Calderwood. “As we are in a situation, a lot of people can’t gather, first I came home to see some of my family. After that, I joined the coaches to celebrate with a barbecue without much crowding. It was a double celebration. The first reason to celebrate was, of course, the victory, but the second reason was because we are going to dispute the title.”

After her impressive win over Calderwood, Maia earned a title shot against current flyweight champ Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko. The fight is scheduled for UFC 255 on November 21. Maia described Shevchenko as “a very difficult and intelligent athlete”. She stated that she believes her skill in Jiu-Jitsu will be one of the advantages over the reigning champ.

The Brazilian described a typical day of her fight camp. “I wake up at 6:30 AM and do a light aerobic workout. At 11:00 AM I have fight training and at 4:00 PM another light training. Next, at 6:00 PM I have physical training. This training goes on from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday morning I have a workout and then a light aerobic session at the end of the day.”

When Maia is not in camp, she revealed her favorite cheat meal is pizza from Bodybuilder Pizzeria in Brazil. The Chute Boxe Monstro Academy fighter also stated she enjoys running and dancing during her downtime.

When asked what winning the UFC title would mean to her, Maia replied, “Realization of years of effort, dedication and determination. I gave up various things for this dream. It would mean achievement for those who trusted in me enough to follow this dream with me. I want to show everyone that when we want something a lot we just have to fight as much as we can to achieve it.”