UFC Vegas 64 Fighter to Watch: Miranda Maverick

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 27: (R-L) Miranda Maverick punches Gillian Robertson of Canada in their lightweight fight during the UFC 260 event at UFC APEX on March 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Driven and competitive flyweight looks for her second straight victory when she faces off with Shanna Young for the second time on Saturday night.

Name: Miranda Maverick
Nickname: Fear The
Record: 10-4 overall, 3-2 UFC
Division: Flyweight
Team: Elevation Fight Team
Opponent: Shanna Young

How We Got Here

Dropping consecutive fights to Maycee Barber and Erin Blanchfield is arguably the best thing that could have possibly happened to Miranda Maverick in these early stages of her UFC career.

Now, to be clear, I thought she won the fight against Barber, but at the end of the day, the result is in there as a loss, and so we have to discuss it as such, and that setback, coupled with getting thoroughly outworked by Blanchfield five months later will end up being one of those moments we look back on years from now as “when Maverick started to really figure things out.”

Prior to those losses, the 25-year-old Missouri native, who has trained in a couple different spots over the years and now calls Denver, Colorado home, was on a five-fight winning streak that included consecutive victories in the UFC. Her debut win over Liana Jojua was awkward as it was stopped as a result of a small cut on Jojua’s nose that wouldn’t stop bleeding (read: the kind of thing that would never stop a fight between male competitors), but her sophomore showing against Gillian Robertson was tremendous and put her on the radar as not only one of the top prospects in the division, but in the sport as a whole.

Then came the loss to Barber, which is still wonderfully listed as “Decision (robbery)” on her Wikipedia page, and the subsequent defeat to Blanchfield in what was her first bout working with Eliot Marshall as her head coach.

She rebounded in March with a dominant second-round submission win over Sabina Mazo, displaying her physicality and grappling skills, and now squares off with Young in a rematch of their Invicta FC Phoenix Series tournament clash from three years ago, which Maverick won by submission in the first round.

What There Is To Like

In a word: plenty.

First and foremost, Maverick’s athleticism and strength have the potential to be difference-makers in a division where very few fighters have both and some have neither. She has good size, moves well, and when she sits down on her strikes or really commits to her grappling, she can be a force.

Secondly, the move to Denver was a tremendous decision. There is a terrific collection of skilled competitors that all work together out there for her to train with, including JJ Aldrich, Raquel Pennington, and Lauren Murphy. On top of that, Marshall is an underrated head coach with a jiu jitsu background that meshes well with Maverick’s initial discipline, and Justin Houghton should be able to elevate her striking game over time.

Next, she’s competitive and driven, and not just in that way that most athletes are competitive and driven. Maverick does everything with intentionality, has a plan for her career and life already framed out, and is going to give herself the best opportunity possible to make it all come together.

And lastly, she’s 25 — she’s got all these other things going for her, including 14 fights under her belt, some very good wins, a grip of upside, and plenty of time to keep working to put it all together.

I would be shocked if she’s not a fixture in the Top 10 within a couple years.

Remaining Questions

The big one is whether she’s one of Federer / Nadal / Djokovic or whether she’s Andy Murray, and I say that with the absolute utmost respect for Sir Andrew Barron Murray OBE.

While he was part of that “Big Four,” the other three have considerably more major tournament victories than he does, and battled amongst themselves for the podium positions, while Murray was a distant fourth. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being the fourth best male tennis player on the planet for the better part of a decade, but it also has to sting to be clearly behind those three icons.

So what does that have to do with Maverick?

Blanchfield, Barber, and Casey O’Neill are fellow “25 & Under” standouts in the flyweight division. She’s already officially lost to the first two, and O’Neill is ahead of all three when it comes to where she’s ranked and who she’s beaten.

If we were aligning them right now, Maverick is in fourth position, but they’re all fairly close together and forecasting how they’ll line up two or three years from now is a fool’s errand.

Obviously, a lot can happen in a couple years and health will be a massive part of determining how far each of these women go in the division. But from a skill, talent, and overall competitive perspective, it’s going to be fascinating to see this quartet battle amongst each other and the rest of the 125-pound weight class over the next bunch of years.

Why This Fight Is Important

This is a fight Maverick should win handily if she’s going to be a contender and Top 10 fixture going forward.

Having spoken with her last week, I can tell you that she feels the same way.

Young is a 31-year-old veteran coming off her first win in the UFC and who feels like a bit of a throwback in terms of her abilities inside the Octagon. She’s more gristle and sandpaper than skill and technique, and while that works to a certain degree and against certain competitors (read: Gina Mazany), it’s not going to cut it against a more athletic, more physically talented, more dynamic fighter like Maverick.

It didn’t work when they fought three years ago, it didn’t seem like it was going to work when this fight was originally booked for UFC 278 in August, and it still doesn’t feel like a blueprint for victory today.

Having said that, I told you to watch Chase Hooper last weekend and if you did, you saw him get lit up by a series of left hands and finished in the first round, but I’m much more confident in Maverick’s abilities and overall upside here than I was about Hooper’s seven days ago.

This should be a statement-making performance, most likely followed by a statement on the mic, and I cannot wait for either.

E. Spencer Kyte is a veteran MMA content creator based in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He's written for numerous outlets, including FOX Sports and The Province, British Columbia's leading newspaper, and has been a freelance contributor to the UFC website for more than a decade. Follow him on Twitter: @spencerkyte.