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Katlyn Chookagian hopes Jessica Eye fight at UFC 231 establishes top strawweight contender

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NEW YORK – The UFC 230 weigh-ins brought bad news for her teammate, Sijara Eubanks, but it might’ve provided big boost to Kaitlyn Chookagian.

After Eubanks missed weight for her bout with Roxanne Modafferi, it made Chookagian’s upcoming fight with Jessica Eye at UFC 231 seem more like a No. 1 contender fight. Such is Chookagian’s hope, anyway.

“I think it was kind of up in the air, depending on the winner of me and Jessica or (Eubanks) and Roxanne,” Chookagian told reporters, including MMAjunkie, backstage at UFC 230. “One of those winners would get the next title shot. Unfortunately, I think that with Sijara missing weight, I think that would kind of solidify our fight as the No. 1 contender. But things have been really crazy the last couple weeks, so you never know.”

Chookagian ought to know just how crazy things can get. Back when the UFC was planning to match up Eubanks against Valentina Shevchenko for the vacant flyweight title, Chookagian said, she got tapped as the back-up fighter in case of emergency. While the plan was later scrapped, for a while there Chookagian was going about her training like she might fight for the title soon.

“It was only for eight days, but that was an intense eight days,” Chookagian said.

Now she has to prepare for Eye, who has rejuvenated her career somewhat as a flyweight, and Chookagian is hoping the circumstances of the fight matter more than the rankings, especially when the UFC looks for another title contender after Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk have their fight for the vacant title in December.

“(Eye is) ranked No. 9, but I think we all know that in this division the rankings don’t really mean anything,” Chookagian said. “I think once they set the title fight between Valentina and Joanna, I think the names being discussed were me, Jessica Eye, and Sijara. No one was really concerned with the rankings. … Me and (Eye) have both been in the UFC for a while. I’m undefeated at 125 (pounds), she has one loss at 125. It makes sense that me and her would be in the talks for the winner of Valentina and Joanna.”

Of course, that could put her on a collision course with her teammate, Eubanks, who is also hoping to fight for the strawweight title soon. But then, as Chookagian pointed out, they fought once already before they trained together, with Chookagian winning via decision.

They might prefer not to fight now that they’re teammates, but Chookagian acknowledged that UFC belts can change that calculus.

“If it’s for a title, that’s kind of how our whole team is,” Chookagian said. “It’s business. If it’s for the title, then we’ll figure it out from there.”

For more on UFC 231, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.



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