The Prelim Breakout Star is a once per event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention to the most talented guy on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.
For this week’s Prelim Breakout Star, we make our first foray into the newly established women’s flyweight division. Because this division is still in its infancy, this fighter might be closer to the top than some realize.
Nickname – Blond Fighter
Affiliation – Renzo Gracie BJJ
From – Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Height – 5’9″
Weight – 125 lbs (Flyweight)
Record – 9-1 (2-1 UFC)
What makes her impressive
The experience factor is a clear benefit to Chookagian here. Although she only has 10 career professional fights, she has already fought the #1, #2 and #6 ranked fighters in the UFC’s newly minted flyweight division. Furthermore, she has defeated the #1 and #2, Sijara Eubanks and Lauren Murphy respectively, and narrowly lost a split decision to #6, Liz Carmouche.
So why has she been able to handle such high level competition? The answer lies in her background of skills. As a very young girl, Chookagian started karate and the results of such early training can still be seen in her style. Her understanding of foot placement and spacing sets her apart from her opponents. She’s able to gauge the distance and get into a place where she can hit her opponent, but they cannot hit her. Currently, her significant strike defense is at 65% according to FightMetic, which is only about 8% off of the UFC leader. Add in the fact that she has a brown belt in jiu jitsu if it does hit the floor.
Why she has been overlooked
While she is only 2-1 in her UFC career, Chookagian has fought only fighters who were/are ranked. This fact tends to get overlooked, especially if those rankings happen after the fact. Also, the fact that she has not won two fights in a row yet makes it difficult for her to gain significant momentum in the public’s eye.
What makes this a good match-up
Mara Romero Borella looked stellar in her UFC debut. She shot a good takedown and wound up in an excellent position, finishing Kalindra Faria with a choke. In general, this is her best path to victory in fights. She sets up takedowns and drags her opponents into the deep waters of a grappling match. What makes Chookagian a nightmare for her is that she is hard to get down due to her excellent use of distance. With the exception of tough grappler Liz Carmouche, she’s stuffed the majority of those trying to take her down. Additionally, most of Borella’s opponents are overwelmed by her grappling, but given Chookagian’s background, it’s unlikely that she will be.
Prelim Breakout Star Record: 134-59-1 (2 NC) (6 DNF)