The current #2 ranked UFC strawweight contender is none other than 115-pound powerhouse, ‘Bate Estaca’ Jessica Andrade. Andrade will be featured this Saturday in UFC on Fox 28’s co-main event when she takes on Tecia Torres in a battle that very well could provide us with our next title contender.
But who may they winner battle for the title? We’ll have to wait until UFC 223 on April 7 to know that answer. But what we know for sure is that it will either be the former longtime champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk or the brand new champion who wants to prove that she is here to stay, Rose Namajunas.
Andrade has already fought with Joanna and was actually Joanna’s last title defense and last win before she fought Rose at UFC 217. When it comes to who Andrade wants to win the upcoming title fight, Andrade didn’t hesitate when asked by MMAJunkie:
“I’m really rooting for Namajunas to win. I think she’s an excellent athlete. She has a huge heart. She’s a true champion. She doesn’t underestimate her opponents. She always goes in it with a lot of will to win and humility. To me, she’s a true champ. So I’m really rooting for her to win this fight. I wouldn’t like Joanna to win.”
A Rose win would be the best case scenario for Andrade assuming she wins this Saturday and does earn her title shot as she hasn’t fought against Rose yet and would be the clear next contender. Regardless, Andrade isn’t feeling 100% confident that she will even be next in line with a big victory over Torres.
“Many people are saying that the winner of our fight would have the next title shot. I’ll be coming off two wins and Tecia, with a win, would be coming off four straight, and it would be fair for her to fight for the belt. But, since there’s Karolina [Kowalkiewicz] as well, who’s doing good in the division, the UFC might want to match my winner against the winner of that fight.
I’m at this stage in which I’m feeling really good, you know? I’m well trained. My body is good. I feel like I’m at my peak with everything, with my body and my career. I wouldn’t have a problem with having another fight before the belt. I think the more fights you do, the more prepared you are for a title fight. I’m not in a rush. But I would love to be a champion this year. I think 2018 is my year.”
But when it comes to her matchup with Torres, Andrade has all the belief that she will get the job done and thinks she has learned greatly from her fight with Joanna at UFC 211.
“I think Tecia will move around a lot,” Andrade said. “She’ll look to hit and leave, like Joanna did. But now I’m much better prepared for this type of fight now than I was before. I now know I can chase my opponent at all times in the octagon. And, when she comes in to touch me, I have to counter. I think I’ll have an easy time there.
When it comes to the ground, if I’m able to get her against the fence, I can certainly take her down and work the ground-and-pound. But I’ll do my best to knock her out in the first or second round. If it doesn’t happen, though, who knows a submission or a TKO from the ground-and-pound?”
In her last appearance in September, Andrade earned the biggest victory of her career when she dominated the perennial #1 ranked contender, Claudia Gadelha with great ease from bell to bell. Something that many found ultra impressive considering that Gadelha has been the one doing most of the dominating throughout her career.
Andrade reflected on that big fight and why she took it in the first place even though she was coming off of a loss in a title fight.
“It was funny, because it wasn’t a fight that was supposed to happen. When you come off a loss, most times a fighter wants to get a more in-the-middle opponent, so they can win. But not me. I know that considering my current position in the UFC and in the rankings, I don’t have an option to fight weaker and lower-ranked people. So, inside me, that win meant some overcoming, too.”
Who do you have walking away victorious on Saturday? Will it be the ‘Tiny Tornado’ Torres or Bate Estaca?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/21/2018.