After a shaky start, former bantamweight Jessica Andrade outmuscled Claudia Gadelha to win by a wide margin on the judge’s scorecards in Saitama on Friday.
When the bout between Gadelha and Andrade was announced, fans seemed sure they would be treated to a three round war. The fighters delivered, but it was Andrade who pulled off the upset.
Early on it was Gadelha who impressed. For the majority of the first round Gadelha was timing her strikes perfectly and outlanding her opponent in almost every exchange. Attempting to capitalise on her momentum, Gadelha jumped guard and tried to finish a guillotine. Eventually Andrade broke free, and wound up in top position. It was an ominous end to a first round that Gadelha should have been awarded, even if all three judges thought otherwise.
The fight would get away from Gadelha in a hurry. As the second round progressed, Andrade was asserting her physical dominance and outmuscling Gadelha. Even the outstanding offensive wrestling usually on display by Gadelha was becoming desperate by the time the second round reached the mid point. Andrade was swinging for the fence, but Gadelha once again pulled guard to try and finish a guillotine before the round ended.
It was a last gasp attempt to win a fight that she couldn’t control. Andrade poured it on in the third, at times womanhandling Gadelha with massive slams, and controlling her on the mat for long periods. There was one final, futile guillotine attempt from Gadelha but it lacked the conviction of her previous efforts.
The judges turned in scorecards of 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27 all in favour of Andrade. The win moves the still-young Brazilian right back into title contention after a failed effort against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in May. For Gadelha, it snapped a two fight winning streak that dates back to her own title loss against Jedrzejczyk.
Jessica Andrade def. Claudia Gadelha by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)