Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight contenders Jessica Andrade and Amanda Lemos will clash TONIGHT (Sat., April 23, 2022) at UFC Vegas 52 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Andrade pretty much immediately proved herself the second best fighter at 125 pounds, but there was still a wide gap to overcome versus champion Valentina Shevchenko. Now that Rose Namajunas is the established Strawweight queen, however, Andrade made the smart decision to drop back down to 115 pounds. After all, those two have unfinished business, and that trilogy battle would be an easy sell after two great fights. Lemos has also found Strawweight as her ideal weight class. Undefeated since dropping down, the Brazilian talent is unusually powerful for the division, the rare 115-pound knockout artist. She’s climbed the ranks quickly as a result, and this could be her moment to jump into the title mix.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Rose Namajunas (UFC 237), Katlyn Chookagian (UFC Fight Island 6), Claudia Gadelha (UFC Fight Night 117), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 228), Tecia Torres (UFC on FOX 28), Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 266), Angela Hill (UFC Fight Night 104)
Key Losses: Valentina Shevchenko (UFC 261), Weili Zhang (UFC Fight Night 157), Rose Namajunas (UFC 251), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 211)
Keys to Victory: Andrade is a powerhouse. Whether she’s slamming her opponent’s gut with hooks, shoveling haymakers into the jaw, or tossing her opponent through the air repeatedly, it’s all about power and physical dominance for “Bate Estaca.”
Andrade tends to be more vulnerable early in fights, before her physicality has worn down her opponents. Given Lemos’ knockout power, getting cracked in the first five minutes as she tries to brawl is a definite concern. For that reason, I’d like to see Andrade really commit to her wrestling early on.
Andrade is a tremendous wrestler at 115 lbs. She absolutely bullies opponents, slamming them with ease. It’s demoralizing, and Lemos has never demonstrated a particularly complex grappling game from her back. If Andrade gets on top, it’s likely bad news for the up-and-comer.
Even if Lemos is adept at defending and scrambling back up, that’s exhausting. It’ll take a bit of sting off her right hand, allowing Andrade to dig into the body more often and start safely building her combinations.
Key Wins: Angela Hill (UFC Vegas 45), Mizuki Inoue (UFC Vegas 7), Livia Renata Souza (UFC 259)
Key Losses: Leslie Smith (UFC Fight Night 113)
Keys to Victory: Being stronger and more physical is a key component of Lemos’ game as well. Unlike Andrade, she likes to operate at distance, where her powerful kicks and accurate punches can end the night early.
Distance is really the key here. Lemos doesn’t want to wrestle with Andrade, nor is trading in the pocket a great idea. No, Lemos wants to take advantage of her edges in reach and height, as well as her piston of a counter right hand.
Against just about any opponent who has tried to maintain distance, Andrade has walked into several counter rights. She tends to just ignore them and keep firing, but that doesn’t always work out. Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili managed to hurt her with that shot, and Lemos has the skills to do the same.
What’s important is that Lemos doesn’t land one right hand then let Andrade get close. She has to land and get back on her bike, forcing Andrade to walk through fire repeatedly and granting herself more opportunities at a knockout.
A contender emerges from this main event.
Andrade has already proven herself as one of the best Strawweights alive. She’s held the title once, and at just 30 years of age, there’s no reason to believe she cannot do so again. The Namajunas vs. Andrade trilogy is highly intriguing and needs to happen at some point — why not for a belt?
Meanwhile, this is Lemos’ opportunity to really announce herself as an elite fighter. Only champions have defeated Andrade at 115 pounds, and Lemos can add herself to that exclusive list. Victory rockets Lemos into the Top Five, where she’s then lined up for a title eliminator on the heels of a major win streak.
At UFC Vegas 52, Jessica Andrade and Amanda Lemos will throw down in the main event. Which woman will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 52 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 9 p.m. ET.
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