Former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade sounds like she has a plan to dethrone the long-reigning flyweight queen. Paired up against Valentina Shevchenko for a title fight at UFC 261, ‘Bate Estaca’ looked at how the last challenger to the belt, Jennifer Maia, showed a clear path to victory
In an interview with Globo Esporte, she spoke about how Maia did a good job showing how to deal with Shevchenko’s game—but just could not control the champion on the ground long enough to secure the win. The way Andrade sees it, she is more than capable of executing the same gameplan effectively.
“In the fight against Jennifer, she made it clear,” Andrade explained. “If you score a good takedown and stabilize it on the floor, you can’t go wrong. We’re giving that a lot of focus. I believe that’s her weakness, the grappling. I keep telling people how strong I am and I’m aware of my potential when I hold people against the fence. I know what I can do, the different ways I can take someone down. I have lots of different takedowns.”
“Once you take your opponent down, there’s no coming back. They get lost, they don’t know how they’re going down. That’s something I can do well during a fight and it’s one of her weaknesses. We analyze it according to her last fight. I believe that my strong suit is her weakness.”
Although Andrade is aware of her path to victory, she also knows what Valentina does well and what could pose a threat to herself in the Octagon. A decorated striker, Shevchenko has shown many times before how dangerous she is on the feet. As such, the Brazilian feels like she will need to be aggressive in order to not let ‘Bullet’ feel comfortable.
“I believe that her striking is her most dangerous skill,” Andrade admitted. “She has really fast strikes. Her rear leg kick is a strike you don’t see coming, because it’s a switch kick, so you don’t expect such a powerful kick to come from that leg. She has spinning kicks, side kicks, they’re all very powerful. I think that’s her strong suit.”
“However, since I’m so aggressive and walk forward all the time, I take shots and don’t feel them, I think that can help me. It’s all going to depend on how the fight goes. I can’t anticipate too much because I’ve never trained with her, I’ve never fought her. What I see is that her striking is scary. It’s really good and I need to be careful around it.”
In her last outing, Jessica Andrade (21-8) scored a first-round TKO win over Katlyn Chookagian in her flyweight debut, back in October 2020. The victory snapped a two-fight losing skid for the 29-year-old, who had suffered losses to Weili Zhang and Rose Namajunas at strawweight.
The women’s flyweight title fight is set for April 24, at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a rematch for the welterweight title, between champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Jorge Masvidal.