Jessica Andrade has become the Swiss army knife of female fighters in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The former Strawweight titleholder began her career as a Bantamweight where she fought seven times in the Octagon before eventually shedding 20 pounds in 2016. Andrade, 31, quickly found success, smashing through the likes of Jessica Penne, Joanne Wood, and Angela Hill to earn her first crack at UFC gold.
“Bate Estaca” came up short in her first attempt opposite Joanna Jedrzejczyk in May 2017, but rallied back with another impressive three-fight win streak before slamming her way to champion status over Rose Namajunas in her home of Brazil (watch highlights). Her reign was short-lived, however, as she was bested by Zhang Weili soon after, and following this past weekend (Nov. 12, 2022), China’s finest is once again on top of the division after dethroning Carla Esparza (watch highlights).
“With Weili’s victory against Carla, I’m sure my next fight after Lauren [Murphy] will be at Strawweight because it’s an option to fight at Strawweight again,” Andrade told MMA Mania. “I need this fight, I need this rematch. Strawweight is my division. For sure, my focus right now is totally on the Lauren Murphy fight. After the fight, we will see what is best for me.
“For now, my focus is 100 percent on Lauren Murphy then I will be back to Strawweight and I’ll fix my division and take my belt again,” she concluded. “But if UFC needs me in other divisions, I will be ready there also.”
Andrade took a trip to the Flyweight division following her run as champion, finding success in all appearances aside from her title shot against Valentina Shevchenko in April 2021. The human highlight reel simply is looking to test herself wherever opportunity knocks, and a fight with fellow recent title challenger, Murphy, was presented for a Brazil return at UFC 283 on Jan. 21, 2023.
Admittedly, it’s an odd situation for Andrade to watch unfold in her primary 115-pound division. In April 2022, Andrade disposed of a current top contender, Amanda Lemos, via a first round standing arm triangle submission choke (watch highlights). The win had seemingly positioned Andrade right back atop the heap of contenders, but she instead chose to stay busy with fights at 125 pounds. Regardless, her goal is to reclaim the Strawweight title.
“If I didn’t have this fight against Lauren Murphy, I believe I would be fighting for the Strawweight title [next],” Andrade said. “I won against Amanda [Lemos] so since I have this fight against Lauren, I think Amanda will fight for the title, but this doesn’t matter to me because I will fight against Lauren then I will go for the Strawweight title.”
Before getting the Murphy bout booked, Andrade was scheduled for a trip to Paris in Sept. 2022 against Manon Fiorot. Unfortunately, a herniated disc forced Andrade out of the bout and onto the surgery table.
Andrade noted that she was in a lot of back pain that even extended to her legs in her calves and hamstrings. It was her first time needing surgery for an injury, but she’s back to full health and ready to show her best version yet against the always durable “Lucky” in front of her Brazilian faithful.
“I know she is a tough opponent, I know this will be a good fight,” Andrade said. “She comes from another division, but I have fought in three divisions so this is not a problem for me. I know she is stronger than me because she’s been in two divisions above me, but I’m ready for this fight and I just need to [believe] in my gameplan and connect with good hands, maintaining the fight in striking and I believe it will be a good fight.”