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UFC Orlando’s Tecia Torres calls ‘title eliminator’ fight with Jessica Andrade the ‘People’s Main Event’

The Tiny Tornado spoke to Bloody Elbow about her co-main event fight with Jessica Andrade at UFC on FOX: Emmett vs. Stephens.

MMA: UFC 218-Torres vs Waterson Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

By beating Michelle Waterson at UFC 218 in December, Tecia Torres improved to 6-1 in the UFC (10-1 overall); further solidifying her candidacy for a shot at the UFC women’s strawweight title. This weekend, at UFC on FOX: Emmett vs. Stephens, she faces Jessica Andrade for a chance to put it beyond doubt that she deserves to fight for a belt.

Heading into the Waterson fight Torres felt that a convincing win could put her one fight away from a championship bout. Despite those high stakes (or perhaps thanks to them) Torres dominated The Karate Hottie on route to an easily adjudicated unanimous decision.

“I was pretty happy with the performance,” said to Torres to Bloody Elbow. “I did want a finish, but that didn’t come. But I was dominant in all the areas that I wanted to be. I never felt like I was in danger in the fight.”

Torres added that the only part of the fight she’s not pleased with is the period in the second round when Waterson took her down and spent time in top control. However, she’s not too dismayed — since her opponent “didn’t do anything” while they were on the ground.

The Tiny Tornado believes her strength advantage may have helped nullify Waterson on the mat. It’s an edge she knew she’d have over the former Invicta atomweight champion.

“Yeah, I knew I was going to be stronger than her,” remarked Torres. “It was funny, listening to the commentary. [They said], ‘Michelle Waterson is living up to her new strength and new muscle,’ and stuff like that. And I’m like, dude, what is she doing to me? I manhandled her. I took her by her neck and threw her to the ground so easily, but yeah, it is what it is. I’m happy with the performance. I felt like I improved and showed some new things in that fight. And that made me happy overall.”

Next up for Torres is a woman who may be better equipped to match her in the raw power department. Andrade competed at 135lbs for years, where she beat Rosi Sexton, Raquel Pennington, and Sarah Moras.

“She’s just a tough and gritty fighter,” said Torres. “She goes in there and she fights! Sometimes it gets ugly, but I think she’s pretty much great everywhere the fight goes and she’s a talented fighter. She’s number two in the division for a reason and she deserves that. But I’m coming in there and I’m going to take that from her. I believe that I have all the skills needed to go in there and beat her.”

Torres, who is ranked fifth in the division, doesn’t have to go far for intel on Andrade. Her partner Pennington (who may be fighting for the bantamweight title soon) fought Andrade twice in the UFC; beating her by submission in 2015.

However, Torres stressed that Pennington’s success and failures against Andrade have not played a factor in her preparation for the fight.

“We really haven’t talked about it to be honest with you. Every fight is different and people are always evolving and trying new things. And she’s in a smaller weight class now so that does play a part — especially when it comes to strength and power, because she is cutting more weight. But a fight’s a fight and I’m going to go in there and fight her my way. The way Raquel went in there and fought her is not necessarily the way I’m going to go in there and do it.”

Pennington will be cornering Torres vs. Andrade, as she did against Waterson. Last year saw Torres shift camps from American Top Team in Florida to Pennington’s team in Colorado; where the pair live (with their seven dogs).

“I very much enjoy her being there [in my corner],” said Torres. “She’s like my comfort ... I definitely trust her with a lot of things when it comes to my fight camp. And she has a lot of knowledge. She’s a female fighter like me. She knows how my body works. She knows how it is to get in the Octagon with another female and duke it out so I’m very blessed to have her.”

Though Torres has not received official word that her fight against Andrade is a ‘title eliminator’, the TUF veteran stated that it “only makes sense” that the winner of this fight receive the next shot at either Rose Namajunas or Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Torres thinks should she beat Andrade, it would make even more sense to have her fight for the title; since she is the only woman in the top five yet to do that in the UFC.

Should Torres and Pennington both get title shots in the near future, 2018 could see two UFC championship belts residing in the same household. Torres finds that prospect exciting, but she’s trying to not get carried away.

“Yeah I definitely entertain [the idea of those two belts] a little bit, in the back of my mind, but I’m always just focused on my current opponent and my current opponent is not the champion. It is Jessica Andrade, so I’ll go from there.

“But Raquel has been in the sport for a while, she got in the UFC with the 135lb division and I think her time is coming too. Hopefully it comes this year. Hopefully she gets a title shot and if and when she does, I’ll be right there cheering her.”

But before she can focus on a hypothetical Pennington vs. Amanda Nunes title fight, Torres must first handle her business on Saturday night. The fight goes down around her old stomping ground in Orlando, Fl. It’s a bout she thinks deserved higher billing than the current co-main event slot.

“[It’s] the ‘People’s Main Event’,” said Torres. “I think we should have probably gotten that main event spot, especially with me being a south Florida resident for so long. And just this being — I know nobody’s told me this — but I see this as a title eliminator fight. But yeah, I think it’s going to be a great scrap, we’re both coming in there hungry to win because we know what’s at stake.”

You can watch Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres on the FOX main card this Saturday. That portion of the event, which is headlined by Josh Emmett vs. Jeremy Stephens, begins at 8pm ET.