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Julija Stoliarenko of Lithuania poses for a post fight portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
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Julija Stoliarenko Is Happy To Go Step-By-Step

UFC Flyweight Julija Stoliarenko Is Thrilled For The Opportunity To Put Together Back-To-Back Wins For The First Time In Her UFC Career

It took Julija Stoliarenko 19 professional mixed martial fights over the course of more than a decade to make her flyweight debut.

The 30-year-old Lithuanian fighter had spent the majority of her career at bantamweight, but after dropping four of her last five in the Octagon, she felt that it was time to try her luck at 125 pounds.

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The result – an armbar submission win over Molly McCann in less than two minutes. It was without a doubt the biggest win of Stoliarenko’s career, and solidified what she and her coaches had been thinking for quite some time.

“We had always talked about with my coach that if I did something good or something great in this sport, it’s going to be at flyweight,” Stoliarenko told UFC.com. “I think the biggest change was the weight class. I still believe I was a pretty decent bantamweight, but in UFC, even at bantamweight I kind of struggled because it’s a higher level and the size here makes sense. I just felt that I was kind of overpowered by my opponents.”

That certainly wasn’t the case for Stoliarenko against McCann. She was able to get control of the fight and work toward her trademark armbar submission with relative ease. The fight was so quick that Stoliarenko didn’t really get to feel the full difference that competing at flyweight would have on her body and skill set.

Julija Stoliarenko of Lithuania reacts after submitting Molly McCann of England by armbar in their women's flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Julija Stoliarenko of Lithuania reacts after submitting Molly McCann of England by armbar in their women's flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“It wasn’t so quick, it was two minutes,” Stoliarenko laughed. “It’s only the second time I’m fighting at flyweight so I’m still excited to see what I am capable of doing. I think my last fight was just a little touch of what I can do in the division. I’m excited to see what I can do here.”

The confidence that came with the win over McCann was just as valuable as the win itself, as it gave Stoliarenko and her team the confirmation to transform her into a true flyweight. That meant implementing a different nutrition plan and a conditioning regimen.

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And now that her weight is stable, she feels primed to make some real moves in the division.

“In the last year I could not fight so much because it was my first weight cut for flyweight, but I’d love to be busy,” Stoliarenko said. “If it’s possible, my weight is stable, I can do three or four fights in the year.”

Julija Stoliarenko of Lithuania submits Molly McCann of England by armbar in their women's flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Julija Stoliarenko of Lithuania submits Molly McCann of England by armbar in their women's flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

She’ll make her first 2024 trip into the Octagon this weekend when she faces Luana Carolina at UFC Fight Night: Dolidze vs Imavov. Beating Carolina on the heels of her win over McCann would give Stoliarenko something that she’s been eyeing for a long time - her first UFC win streak.

Stoliarenko believes the matchup with Carolina comes at the right time, with both fighters having similar records and experience. She knows that Carolina will be looking to shut down her jiu jitsu game, but that won’t stop her from executing her gameplan and looking for her 11th career win by submission.

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It’s exactly the test that she wants to pass to showcase that she is ready to make 2024 her best yet in the Octagon.

“I still have plenty of time in my career and I just want to be sure that I’m doing the right things. If I get two wins in a row, it will show me that I’m on the right path,” Stoliarenko said. “I really want to do that. I really want to make my place in UFC and finally take serious steps here. Not just win then lose, then win then lose. No, I want to be a serious fighter and do step-by-step. I want to be sure of my next steps, like a contract, and so on. I don’t want to have those worries, I just want to fight.”

UFC Fight Night: Dolidze vs Imavov took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 3, 2024. See the final Main Card & Prelim Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!