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Jessica Andrade says she doesn’t like fighting Brazilians, but would face Jennifer Maia for the belt

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Former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade needs a strong motivator to face a fellow Brazilian in the UFC.

UFC Fight Night: Chookagian v Andrade Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Like many of her fellow Brazilians, former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade is not a big fan of facing her own countrywomen in the Octagon. In fact, during her 18-fight career in the promotion, ‘Bate Estaca’ has only faced other Brazilians athletes twice: Larissa Pacheco and Claudia Gadelha.

However, Andrade is willing to make an exception for the right reward.

While we all wait for the female flyweight title picture to be sorted at UFC 255, where Valentina Shevchenko will try her fourth title defense - against Jennifer Maia - Andrade would not turn down a fight for the belt against Maia, should the challenger emerge as the new champion next Saturday.

“We don’t like to fight other Brazilians, but it’s pretty cool if there’s a belt on the line.” Andrade told Ag Fight. “I’m very close to Poliana Botelho, Virna Jandiroba and Amanda Ribas, too. It’s like I always tell them: ‘If we’re going to fight, it might as well be for the belt. I don’t want to fight you in a normal fight’. I think the UFC will have lots of tools to work with if Jennifer wins. I could get the chance to rematch her. If Valentina wins, I’ll have a chance to fight her, which is something I was not able to do before joining the UFC. There’s plenty of opportunities for me. My time in this division will be a very cool part of my career.”

Like Andrade herself mentioned, fighting Maia in the UFC would also mean a chance to get even. Before both athletes joined the UFC, Maia actually handed Andrade her second ever professional loss. At the time, in December 2012, the current title challenger bested Andrade via unanimous decision at Samurai FC 9.

Although Andrade was unable to stop Maia then, she believes that a lot has changed in the past eight years. Should the pair meet again nowadays, Andrade feels like it would be a much different contest than the first one.

“A lot has changed, right? Both my style and hers. I wasn’t very experienced when I fought her. I had not evolved at all yet. Jennifer had been fighting for five or six years already. She was fighting in big shows and I was just getting started. I’m more aggressive now, I can land more shots in the right moment now. My hands are more precise. My ground game and takedowns are much better, not to mention my resistance and ability to absorb shots. That would be the way. To remain aggressive and use the cage and my grappling to tire Jennifer. It would be interesting.”

When Andrade was training to meet Rose Namajunas for the second time, she even got the chance to train with Maia. During that time, Andrade was able to already notice how much she evolved since the first time she faced Maia.

“We’ve trained together before I faced Rose for the second time. We went to Curitiba and had a nice training session there. It was cool, we helped each other a lot. We were always welcomed there. I was able to tell how much I’ve evolved from the last time we fought. I noticed I have the skills to beat her in a rematch. If she wins, (against Shevchenko) I’ll study her last fight to take advantage of it.”

In her last outing, Jessica Andrade (21-8) defeated former flyweight title challenger Katlyn Chookagian via TKO, back in October. The win marked the 29-year-old’s 125-pound debut and snapped a two-fight losing skid, with defeats to Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang.