The current challenger for the UFC strawweight title believes she has quite an advantage over champion Rose Namajunas: the power to finish a fight at any given moment with just one shot.
In an interview with Combate just days prior to her second crack at the title, albeit against a different champion, Jessica Andrade did emphasize she is not the same fighter who was dominated by Joanna Jędrzejczyk two years ago. However, she also pointed out she has serious knockout power, which ‘Bate-Estaca’ believes will be puzzling for Namajunas.
“We only know if distance and footwork work after the opponent hits you in the face, that’s when we know if it will work,” Andrade said. “I’ve been training my footwork, my faints, my timing, so I believe I’ll give her a hard time. I’m not the same Jessica who fought Joanna. She may move better than me, she may know her way around the Octagon better, but if I catch her, all it takes is one shot. I’m sure that this punching power will make a difference, the cage, too.
“We studied those things as a way to neutralize her. We know that in the beginning of the round, she might feel my hands and then try to take me down, so our strategy is to give her no space, squeeze her against the cage and tire her limbs out, then she won’t be able to move anymore. If we have an opening, we’ll also try to take her down and ground and pound.”
Defeated via unanimous decision when she took on Jędrzejczyk back in May 2017, Andrade likes to emphasize how she was unprepared and injured coming in to that first title fight. However, now the 27-year-old feels as ready as ever and doesn’t consider Namajunas a harder challenger than the former champion.
“I believe Rose is much slower than Joanna,” Andrade said. “I watched her last couple of fights and you can tell how she starts to lose energy by the fourth round. She lands good shots, but she slows down. Joanna, on the other hand, picks up the pace after the third round. Her gas tank seems to be infinite. I believe it’ll be different to take away Rose’s energy. Against Joanna, I was injured and couldn’t put her against the cage to tire her out, when I took her down, I couldn’t hold her there. Today’s Jessica is 100%, no injuries, and when I pressure her, I doubt she will come back like she did in the previous round. I believe I can score a knockout or a submission after the second or third round. If I play my cards right, things will get difficult for her.”
Jessica Andrade (19-6) is on a three-fight winning streak, with victories over Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Tecia Torres and Claudia Gadelha. Her title fight with Namajunas headlines UFC 237 on May 11th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.