Tatiana Suarez needs further testing before UFC return; in no rush for title shot

Tatiana Suarez is still on the mend.

A UFC strawweight contender, Suarez (8-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) competed most recently at UFC 238 in June, where she earned a win over then-surging Nina Ansaroff.

The victory propelled Suarez into the title conversation. However, when a pre-fight neck injury became an increasing issue, Suarez was forced to take some time off from competitive action.

Six months later, Suarez is still recovering. According to a recent interview with The Score, she detailed her “whole neck” is affected by the injury – including the C4, C5, C6, C7 and T1 vertebrae, to be exact.

“Basically, I had a cortisone shot,” Suarez said. “Then I had stem cells injected, as well. For a while, it felt worse after the injection. It’s probably because they put a needle inside my spine. It felt horrible for a while, but it’s getting better.”

In addition to the injections, Suarez has been partaking in physical therapy. While she says she feels better physically, Suarez indicated she isn’t where she needs to be in order to fight. Another injection is likely. If an MRI doesn’t show progress, she may have to undergo surgery.

“I definitely feel like it’s getting better, (but) I definitely noticed that I probably need to get another cortisone shot,” Suarez said. “We’re going to do another MRI, but the last one showed it wasn’t cleared yet. My nerve wasn’t cleared yet.

“So what they want to do is give it some time.. .. We’re going to do an MRI first, and if it’s not clear, we’re going to do another shot – probably, next month.”

Suarez said she is eager to fight but unwilling to rush the process. She wants to heal properly. Her health takes precedent over maintaining her momentum – which has been one of the hardest parts of recovery.

“Of course I want to get in there and fight,” Suarez said. “I just think it’s not very wise to jump in. With this type of injury, if I hurt it again?

“I just don’t want to re-aggravate it and start the healing process all over again. I think a lot of times people do that. They want to jump in there, and then they re-injure themselves. Then, instead of being out nine months or something, they’re out two years.”

Since her last fight, the UFC’s strawweight title has changed hands, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has resurged, and Rose Namajunas has announced she’ll be coming back in 2020. The division moves quickly, and Suarez recognizes she might have to fight again before she challenges for the 115-pound strap despite her previous standing as a de facto No. 1 contender.

“I’m kind of like, whatever,” Suarez said. “I’ve never been in a rush to fight for the title or anything like that. Basically when people ask me about that, I’m like, ‘My time will come, and when it comes, I’m going to take full advantage.’ That’s still my attitude.

“I did believe if I was healthy after my last fight, I could have potentially got the title shot. Because I wasn’t, that (has) obviously passed. But the division is moving, so I’m not sitting here saying that I’m going to jump the line ahead of other people that I believe deserve to be fighting for the title. I know there’s a lot of girls gunning for the title. So whoever I need to beat, that’s fine. I’ll fight them. Then, onto the next one after that.”

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