When Nicco Montano was hospitalized ahead of her planned UFC 228 title fight with Valentina Shevchenko, the UFC began a frantic and ultimately unsuccessful search for a replacement opponent. While the promotion ultimately decided to pull Shevchenko from the card, strawweight contender Jessica Andrade says she offered to abandon her planned strawweight fight with Karolina Kowalkiewicz and battle Shevchenko for the vacant flyweight title on short notice.
“I even offered to fight for the belt if they agreed to, but since they had already weighed me and done all the work, I wasn’t allowed by the athletic commission,” Andrade said at the UFC 228 post-fight press conference (transcript via Sherdog). “But I’m happy I was able to help the promotion, help the UFC with a great show and excite people.”
In the end, of course, everything worked out for Jessica Andrade, as she knocked out her UFC 228 opponent Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the very first round, all but guaranteeing herself the next shot at UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. This is precisely the way she hoped things would go.
“I knew I was going to get this knockout,” Andrade said. “I trained so hard my muay Thai, I came very strong for this fight. I had in my mind: if she punches me, I’ll punch even harder. I didn’t expect to be that quick, because Karolina is really tough, but I can only celebrate. When I look to the past, I see how much I have evolved, and I’m just learning everyday a little bit more.”
How do you think Jessica Andrade would have faired in a short notice flyweight title fight with Valentina Shevchenko? Do you think she could have pulled off the win? Join the debate in the comments section below.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/10/2018.