Suarez Details Ongoing Neck Injury That’s Keeping Her Sidelined
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports
Tatiana Suarez has done enough to fight for a UFC championship. The only problem is that the undefeated women’s strawweight contender can’t kick a nagging neck injury to cash in on her recent success.
Suarez, 28, is one of the most physically imposing forces in the 115-pound division. And while the former Ultimate Fighter standout hasn’t won a world title and only has eight career professional fights to her name, people have already started to compare her to UFC lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov. Suarez has been that dominant since her UFC debut in 2016 and doesn’t seem to be slowing down inside of the cage.
That said, Suarez needs to remain healthy heading into 2020 if she wishes to take her UFC career to a new level. Unfortunately, the streaking contender has been dealing with a neck injury since her unanimous decision win over Nina Ansaroff this past June.
“Basically, I had a cortisone shot,” Suarez told The Score. “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.”
Considering Suarez hasn’t competed in nearly six months she’s had plenty of time to assess her current injury and determine a suitable timeline for a return. While she has seen minor improvements along the way Suarez hasn’t necessarily received the results she was hoping for.
“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, who comes from an accomplished wrestling background, is truly tough as nails. She has likely fought through injury in the past and fight fans probably never saw a difference in performance. Suarez acknowledges that she could probably fight in her current state, but if her neck injury flares up again it could be worse than before. That’s a risk the aspiring title challenger is unwilling to take at this time.
“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.”
After winning her first five UFC appearances, which includes finishes over Carla Esparza, Alexa Grasso, and Amanda Cooper, there aren’t too many other contenders more deserving of a title shot than Suarez. But even though Suarez has done enough over the past few years to earn a shot at UFC gold she understands that her time off may force her to win another fight or two.
“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.”