The modern era of MMA consists of as much if not more gamesmanship outside of the Octagon than inside of it. Fighters are known to position themselves the best way possible to make the most money, climb the rankings, and/or get a title shot. Any bout proposal the fighter deems unproductive to achieve these goals is likely to be met with a rejection of the offer. Perennial strawweight contender Jessica Andrade is not here to play games and does not know the meaning of the word “self-doubt.” So when considering what is next for herself, it is almost as if she perceives no possible threat in the division. The belief in herself is so absolute that unlike what most fighters would do in her position as the clear-cut #1 contender, she does not see fighting again as a risk, but merely an opportunity to be even bettered prepared for her next title shot:
“I’m waiting for my next fight,” Andrade said in Rio de Janeiro over the weekend speaking with MMA Junkie. “It might happen that I fight for the belt, but for me, I’m good with whoever comes. I’d like to do another fight before I fight for the belt – even for financial reasons because we need to be in a good place to do a camp for a title fight.”
Andrade’s comments rang a familiar tune. Prior to her first title fight against then champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 211, Andrade also insisted on fighting one more time, even though her manager claims she was already offered a title shot. She would go on to dominate Angela Hill to prepare herself financially for a championship-caliber training camp. And although Andrade is trying to repeat this procedure, she claims her peers are not as game as she is:
“The biggest difficulty I’m having is finding opponents,” Andrade explained. “I’ve asked for Karolina, who’s one of the highest-ranked (strawweights). She doesn’t want to fight me. Joanna already has a fight booked against Tecia, so that’s someone who’s out of the question. And Namajunas only wants to fight in October, so that’ll be very hard for me.
“I can’t find opponents. The girls don’t want to fight. I’ve been asking the UFC all the time. I think it’s been hard to find girls who want to fight me. But I’m waiting. I’ll wait. Who knows, maybe Namajunas will want to fight before that and I’ll have that title shot before I imagined.”
Jessica Andrade is on a two-fight win streak following her loss to Jedrzejczyk. She has defeated two of the toughest names in the division, Claudia Gadelha and Tecia Torres, each by unanimous decision and each without a doubt on whom the superior competitor was. Particularly of note is the Gadelha victory, as Andrade was the first woman to dominate Gadelha in a fight and also because she entered that fight as the underdog. Now that Andrade has defeated these top names and, according to her claims, other top-ranked competitors do not want to fight her, she is willing to fight anyone at all:
“I’d like to fight anyone in the division, out of the top five,” Andrade said. “But there probably won’t be anyone. So it could be a top-10 (opponent). That would still work for me. Because if Namajunas won’t fight until October, that’s too long for me to wait. So I’d have to do another fight to be able to have money to do a good camp for the belt.”
One thing is clear from this rare, I dare say isolated behavior from a #1 contender: Andrade truly believes within her warrior spirit that no one can deter her forward progress to the strawweight championship. And if you’ve seen her last two performances, can you blame her?
What do you think? Would Andrade be making a mistake to accept another fight prior to a title shot?