UFC’s Manon Fiorot targets champ Valentina Shevchenko, welcomes Rose Namajunas if she moves up

After knee surgery went “perfect,” UFC women’s flyweight contender Manon Fiorot is inching toward an octagon return and a title run in 2023.

Fiorot (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC), who is undefeated in the UFC and coming off a high-profile win over Katlyn Chookagian in October, is still rehabilitating her knee but expects to be back to full training in March or April, with a targeted return to competition in August.

Currently No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie women’s flyweight rankings, Fiorot has a case to challenge reigning UFC champion and Valentina Shevchenko for the title. In fact, Shevchenko (23-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) recently told MMA Junkie that Fiorot is one of the names she her eyes next.

The timing of Fiorot’s recovery paired with Shevchenko’s desire to fight in the first quarter of 2023 rules out that option as the next divisional title pairing, but Fiorot is still confident it’ll happen next year.

“I see the interview (with Shevchenko) and, for me, it’s normal,” Fiorot told MMA Junkie through an interpreter. “I’m the No. 1 contender (in the UFC rankings), so we need to talk about myself when we talk about the belt. I don’t know what’s happened, I don’t know if Valentina knows when she talked about that if I’m injured. If she takes a fight now in a few weeks, it’s normal, because I come back in summer. We have to see this fight in 2023, but for now if she takes another fight, I will fight someone else in July or August and then at the end of the year, we will see.”

Fiorot, 32, said she won’t be picky about the name of her next foe. Her lone request, however, is that it serves as a main event. Having five rounds to train for and potentially fight would be invaluable experience as she tries to become champion.

“For now, I don’t care about my next opponent – I will take everyone in the division,” Fiorot said. “I want a main event fight to keep some eyes on me and get some experience before I fight for the belt.”

Despite her passiveness on opponent selection for the next fight, Fiorot does want the biggest matchups possible. She revealed a recent rumor that crossed her radar indicating former UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (11-5 MMA, 9-4 UFC) would be moving up to 125 pounds. If that’s the case, Fiorot would love to welcome her to the division in a title eliminator showcase.

“Waiting on Valentina is not an option for me, because I really want to fight in August,” Fiorot said. “In my mind, in my mindset, I say to everyone I will beat Valentina. So if I say that, I can win against anybody in the division. So I don’t care who I fight in August. I don’t know against who, but I heard two weeks or three weeks ago that Rose (Namajunas) wants to move up to the flyweight division. I’m the No. 1 contender, so if she comes, she has to fight me. Then after we can see.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie