Tatiana Suarez is a promising prospect in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s strawweight division, but injuries have held her back throughout her career. The 27-year-old has a strong wrestling background and was the season 23 winner of The Ultimate Fighter reality series. Suarez beat teammate Amanda Bobby Cooper in The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale by D’Arce choke to win the strawweight tournament winner.
During her wrestling career, Suarez was a two-time bronze medalist in the world championships in freestyle wrestling. She was the top-ranked freestyle wrestler in the United States at 55kg, but a devastating neck injury while training for the 2012 Summer Olympics derailed her Olympic dreams.
An MRI revealed that Suarez was suffering from a disc injury, but also had a cancerous growth on her thyroid. After radiation and having her thyroid and lymph nodes removed, the cancer was gone and Suarez returned to training.
In her professional mixed martial arts debut in July 2014, Suarez captured the vacant Gladiator Challenge Flyweight Championship. She then racked up a 3-0 record before getting the call to join The Ultimate Fighter. On the show, Suarez beat Chel-c Bailey, JJ Aldrich, and Kate Jackson — two of the wins coming by submission — to earn her place in the finale which she ultimately won.
After defeating Cooper in the Finale, Suarez took more than a year out of action before returning to score a unanimous decision win over Viviane Pereira in November 2017 at UFC Fight Night 120.
Next up for Suarez is a meeting with another top prospect, Alexa Grasso, at UFC Fight Night 129 in Santiago, Chile on Saturday, May 19.