Friday, June 24, 2022

Jéssica Andrade Believes Julianna Peña Is Ideal Matchup To Win BW Title

Former UFC strawweight champion Jéssica Andrade is confident in her chances in a hypothetical matchup with Julianna Peña.

Peña is set to face Amanda Nunes in a title rematch later this year at UFC 277. She pulled off arguably the biggest upset in UFC history last December at UFC 269, submitting Nunes in the second round.

Andrade won a UFC title at strawweight and also is a top contender at flyweight. But, she has her eye on the bantamweight title in a division she hasn’t competed in since a loss to Raquel Pennington at UFC 191.

During a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Andrade gave her thoughts on a potential bantamweight title fight and whether Peña or Nunes would be the more favorable matchup for her.

“In theory, it’s easier to fight Julianna, especially for what she’s showed against Amanda,” Andrade said. “I really think it was more of Amanda [losing than Peña winning], because Amanda is way better than what she’s showed. She was submitted with no hooks in, you could see the pressure wasn’t too much. But I don’t know how Amanda’s weight cut was — it was two years since her last fight [at bantamweight], so something might have affected and led to that. She got tired so quickly. It wasn’t the Amanda we’re used to watching. Maybe she will show the Amanda we know in this rematch and get the belt back.

“If that doesn’t happen, I really think it’s easier to fight Julianna than the girls at 125 and 115. I hope we get the opportunity to fight one day and it’s for the belt. I think it’s the easier matchup, no doubt. We’re used to fighting girls at 125 and 115, who are faster and have power in their strikes, and people at 135 are slower, I think due to their weight and how they move. So if you get them tired, it’s over. I get better round after round, I don’t get tired, I don’t slow down, and that would be a good key for me to beat Julianna and maybe win the 135-pound belt.”

Andrade began her UFC tenure at bantamweight, earning wins over the likes of Larissa Pacheco, Sarah Moras, and Pennington. She would go on to move down to strawweight and go on a tear, winning seven of her next eight fights following the loss to Pennington in their rematch.

Andrade then pondered the chances of her moving back up to 135lbs to challenge the winner of Peña/Nunes.

“Maybe we can risk going to 135 again in the future just so I can prove people that I really won in three weight classes, but only in the final stages of my career,” Andrade said. “It could be a cool option. Fighting Julianna could be a cool test for me. Imagine that, becoming champion at 135?

“Since there’s no one to fight me at 115 and 125, put me to fight for the belt at 135. It’s an option. I’m ready for everything. I’m living here [in Las Vegas] now, so it’s much easier. If you need me, just knock on my door and I’m in.”

Andrade returned to strawweight in her last UFC outing in April, finishing Amanda Lemos with a standing arm-triangle choke in the first round. Before that, she lost a flyweight title shot against Valentina Shevchenko but rebounded with a win over Cynthia Calvillo.

It’s unclear what Andrade’s next move will be in the Octagon, but she’s intrigued at the possibility of moving back to where her UFC career started and potentially becoming a multi-division UFC champion.

Do you think Jéssica Andrade could defeat Julianna Peña for the bantamweight title?

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