Katlyn Chookagian has been around the fight game long enough to know that the path to success does not always involve highlight-reel finishes and crazy knockouts.
On Saturday night at UFC 262, Chookagian once again used a methodical approach to tire out opponent Viviane Araujo over three rounds of fighting. In the end, the judges declared the Armenian from Pennsylvania the winner via unanimous decision for Chookagian’s 16th career professional win.
After a back-and-forth first round which led to two of the three judges scoring the frame in favor of Araujo, Chookagian got into trouble in the second round when Araujo landed a takedown. Chookagian was on her back for nearly two minutes, fighting off submission attempts from her 34-year-old Brazilian opponent. However, Chookagian was able to get back on her feet and dominate the fight the rest of the way. All three judges deemed Chookagian the winner of the second and third rounds.
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“I wasn’t concerned (about the judges’ decision), but you never know about the takedown,” Chookagian explained after the fight. “The takedown (upset me) so I came up, and I think that actually helped me because it helped me turn it up a little bit the rest of the fight.”
Chookagian out-struck Araujo 90-57 in the final two rounds; she credited her well-conditioned cardio as a major advantage, especially in the later stages of the fight when she noticed Araujo’s level of exhaustion.
“I saw it in her face,” recalled Chookagian, “I knew that going into the fight that in all of her fights, she always gets gassed. Even when she’s dominant and other people aren’t doing anything to her, she still gets gassed. When I saw that, my eyes lit up because cardio is never going to be an issue for me.”
This was Chookagian’s second consecutive win after losing to No. 1-ranked contender Jessica Andrade back in October. She also became the UFC record-holder for most wins in the flyweight division with seven victories. Despite the win, Chookagian isn’t rushing for a rematch against champion Valentina Shevchenko, who defeated her back in February 2020.
“I’ve been in this division since it opened, and I’ve beat number 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Obviously, I’ll fight anyone, but the one girl I think that’s in the top 10 that I haven’t fought is Alexa Grasso. Everyone talks about how good her boxing is and when I watch that I get a little chip on my shoulder because I think I have the best boxing in the division.”
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This was also Chookagian’s first fight since President Joe Biden became the first sitting US President to call the killings of more than 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 a genocide on April 24.
“It meant a lot. Any type of publicity from the media to recognize what’s going on in Armenia and what has gone on is special to me,” she told the Weekly. “It’s kind of crazy what’s happened there in history and a lot of people still don’t know about that.”