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Jennifer Maia will not ‘respect’ Shevhchenko, aims to keep champion out of ‘comfort zone’

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Flyweight title challenger Jennifer Maia wants to be different than Valentina Shevchenko’s previous opponents.

UFC Fight Night Brunson v Shahbazyan: Weigh-Ins Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The next female flyweight title challenger wants to be different than all the previous opponents who came up short against Valentina Shevchenko. After a slick submission win over Joanne Calderwood secured Jennifer Maia’s title shot, the former Invicta FC champ vows not waste it when she meets ‘Bullet’ in November.

In an interview with Ag Fight, Maia believes that having the self-confidence to not feel intimidated by Shevchenko is the key for a victory against the reigning champion. In order to put on a good performance and walk out of the Octagon with the belt, Jennifer believes she cannot respect Valentina in the fight.

“She’s really tough and smart. No wonder she’s the champion. It’s hard to find a gap in her game, she’s so well-rounded. I want to go the opposite way many other athletes did. They were scared from the start, respecting her. I don’t want to respect her. I want to go after her, do my thing and not give her room to be comfortable. I think it’s one way to do it. I want to keep her out of the comfort zone.”

Although Jennifer will be a major underdog going into the fight, like all other challengers before her were, she feels no pressure to be in that spot. In fact, not being the favorite makes Maia quite comfortable and the chance of surprising the world motivates the Brazilian even more.

“Everyone thinks I’m the underdog, but I have a big chance of surprising everyone. It’s good not to have that pressure. I feel like surprising everyone. The more they think I can’t beat her, the more I think I can.”

Maia (18-6-1) tapped out Calderwood back on August 1st. The win came right after a November 2019 unanimous decision loss to former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian. Before the defeat, though, the 31-year-old was on a two-fight winning streak, with unanimous decision victories over Alexis Davis and Roxanne Modafferi.

Maia is expected to meet Shevchenko at UFC 255’s co-main event, on November 21, in a location yet to be determined. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a flyweight title fight between the champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, and former bantamweight title-holder Cody Garbrandt.