Jennifer Maia Turns Back Casey O’Neill, Serves Up Prospect’s First Loss

Jennifer Maia and Casey O’Neill, UFC 286 weigh-in ceremony Photo: Jamie Theodosi/Cageside Press

As of March 2023, women’s flyweight is a brand new competition, with Valentina Shevchenko defeated by Alexa Grasso at UFC 285.

After two weeks, an event and a PPV, UFC 286 arrives on March 18, offering “The King” Casey O’Neal the chance to enter an increasingly crowded title fight if she wins over former title challenger Jennifer Maya. O’Neal was undefeated in her nine-game career entering the night.

Along with O’Neill, new faces such as Manon Fioro and Irene Blanchfield ensure there will be no shortage of challengers when the expected rematch between Grasso and Shevchenko plays out.

Casey O’Neal showed a better stand-up ability earlier in Saturday’s main draw, holding her own against Maya in the boxing division. Her right hand caught the Brazilian on more than one occasion as Maya stayed nimble, taking advantage of plenty of lateral movement on the outside. Maia delivered her jab, the way the first half of the fight went. O’Neal pushed on in the second half, while Maya added a high shot to her arsenal.

The pair swapped to the buzzer, and the crowd increased in intensity as the clock ticked – despite two rounds remaining.

In the second game, O’Neal continued to press — but her one-handed attack was answered by Maya with a combination. As the bout progressed, O’Neill did succeed with her left hand, and her volume increased. If she has a numerical advantage, she’ll keep her feet on the ground — and at the same time, there’s no threat of removal.

Going into the third quarter is still anyone’s battle to come out of tired clichés. O’Neill walked on, but her efforts showed some damage, her voice tinged with blood. Maya’s right hand was just right and she didn’t slow down. In the meantime, O’Neal might just be a little caught off guard. However, she was far from out of the fight and was still able to heat up and start getting better engagements as the bout went on. The pair leaned against the fence at the last minute for third, looking to take the lead in the race. After some back and forth as they stood, O’Neal finished the offense.

While O’Neill showed some improvement, the improvement in the game was a little too much for her as she suffered her first loss, with all three judges scoring for Maya.

Official Results: Jennifer Maia def. Casey O’Neal won by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

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