Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight elites Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres collided last night (Feb. 24, 2018) at UFC on FOX 28 inside Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Andrade came into this bout with a scary energy around her. The Brazilian faced off with Claudia Gadelha — a woman assumed by many to be the clear-cut best in the division behind Joanna Jedrzejczyk — and utterly dominated her, showcasing uniquely devastating physicality that immediately made her a title threat once more. On the other hand, Torres has been one of her division’s top fighters and won fights with great regularity. Of course, having a win over the current champion is also a big bonus for any contender, and “Tiny Tornado” hoped to confirm her title shot with a victory here.
Torres cracked Andrade immediately, which resulted in an ugly flurry from the Brazilian. Andrade chased with the left hook, which allowed Torres to continually counter with the right hand as her foe advanced. Torres was tagging Andrade constantly, gut Andrade pushed forward regardless and began to find her own range a bit by the midway point of the round.
The story was different in the second half of the round. Andrade’s constant forward movement did not force Torres to gas, but it did slow her down a bit. That half-step less of speed allowed Andrade to find her range and land far more often.
It was a close round overall, but Andrade finished strong with a power double leg.
Torres moved well to begin the second round and kicked a bit more, but Andrade managed to trap Torres on the fence and then slam her like a sack of potatoes. Torres threatened with an inverted triangle from her back, but it wasn’t meant to be, and “Bate Estaca” dropped some elbows instead.
Torres was able to scramble up rather quickly, and both women were a touch slower in the feet, resulting in many punches landed. Andrade didn’t want to hang out on the feet, however, and she slammed Torres hard two more times. Torres was very active in upkicking and throwing up submissions from her back, but she still spent a lot of time underneath the powerful Brazilian.
The first ten minutes were definitely close, but Andrade’s physicality seemed to be the deciding factor.
An immediate single leg from Andrade brought the fight to the mat, but Torres scrambled up quickly once more. All the grappling had slowed the feet of both athletes, which really favored Andrade’s close range bruising style. While both fighters were landing, it was the opportunistic and powerful takedowns of Andrade that were making the biggest difference.
Eventually, Andrade was able to settle into the half guard and control top position for a considerable amount of time. Torres never stopped trying to scramble back to her feet or score reversals, but she simply could not dislodge the Brazilian “Pile Driver.”
Torres gave her a great fight, but Andrade ultimately won every round on my scorecard, and the judges awarded her the unanimous decision as well.
Andrade wins fights because of her physicality and conditioning. The Brazilian was picked apart badly to start the fight, getting countered repeatedly with the same exact sequence. It didn’t really matter though — Andrade wasn’t going to get knocked out, and circling away constantly is difficult work. Eventually, Torres was going to give an inch to catch a breathe, and Andrade never let her have that inch back.
Once Andrade finds her range, she’s relentless. She fires six punch combinations even if the first five miss and she’s countered twice. Those combinations lead into her takedowns, and the shots don’t even have to be set up all that well. Andrade throws women around like they’re two weight classes smaller, and she really wears on her opponents once on top.
If Namajunas defeats Joanna Jedrzejczyk once more, I fully expect Andrade to be UFC champion. If not, that’s a seriously rough match up for the Brazilian, but it’s a rematch she’s earned. As for Torres, she was game as hell. She countered Andrade constantly throughout the fight, but she ultimately came up short because Andrade was able to get inside. Torres could not keep her range the entire fight, which is a difficult task for a woman usually tasked with working her way inside.
Despite the loss, Torres showed a ton of heart and technique in this loss. It was a great fight, and Torres proved herself a quality member of the division’s Top 5.
Last night, Jessica Andrade muscled past another top contender to cement her title shot. Is Andrade a future champion?
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