Jessica Andrade Has Options, and There are No Wrong Answers

Jessica Andrade UFC 237
Credit: Dave Mandel/

Competing in two of the best fights of the year, and winning them both, has put UFC strawweight badass Jessica Andrade in control of her bright future heading into 2018.

Even with a loss to UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in May at UFC 211, Andrade has quickly fought her way back into the title picture. It didn’t always seem to be so straightforward for the Brazilian, who made the move to 115-pounds from 135-pounds in June of last year.

The decision to drop weight classes came after Andrade amassed a 4-3 record over more than two years at bantamweight in the UFC.

Losing her promotional debut to Liz Carmouche in July of 2013, Andrade tallied three consecutive victories before being submitted by Marion Reneau in February of 2015. A rebound-win over Sarah Moras was followed by a submission loss to Raquel Pennington at UFC 191, someone she had defeated via split-decision at UFC 171.

Since making the move, all she’s done is go 4-1, with a Performance of the Night and two Fight of the Night bonuses over those five bouts. Andrade ended 2016 with back-to-back finishes, defeating Jessica Penne via TKO at UFC 199 and Joanne Calderwood via submission at UFC 203. With a couple of wins under her belt, she was ready for a step-up in competition, and hit her strawweight stride at the perfect time.

Fighting three times already this year, Andrade is 2-1 against a few of the best female fighters in MMA. In February, she threw down with former Invicta FC strawweight champion Angela Hill, winning by unanimous decision in the Fight of the Night at UFC Houston. Then came the unanimous decision loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 211 for the UFC strawweight title.

That brings us to last weekend. Battling fellow Brazilian and top-tier strawweight Claudia Gadelha, Andrade put together what is likely the most impressive victory of her career. Now, 23 fights into said career, things are aligning for the 25-year-old. From strawweight to bantamweight, and that division on-the-way in between, Andrade could find herself competing in high-profile bouts in a few weight classes.

Or not. Either way, it’s up to her, and she’s earned the felixbility headed her way. There are interesting, important potential matchups across multiple divisions for Andrade, so we decided to take a look at the paths she could take in the near future.


Much of what happens at the top of the UFC’s strawweight division depends on champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. As it should. The most recent update from Joanna Champion indicates that Andrade may have a chance at a rematch sooner rather than later.

Planning for two more title defenses, Jedrzejczyk is aiming to best Ronda Rousey’s mark of six title-defenses with seven of her own. The first step is defeating Rose Namajunas at UFC 217. But after that, the door is wide open for a contender to step-in.

Yeah, we’ve already seen Andrade and Jedrzejczyk fight, and it wasn’t exactly competitive. But, should Joanna Champion extend her streak against Namajunas this November, there aren’t many other options.

Going down the list of ranked contenders, you’d have to go to fifth-ranked Tecia Torres for a fresh Jedrzejczyk opponent. Torres’ 9-1 record is great, but comparing her last five strawweight bouts to the likes of Andrade showcases the impressive resume’ the Brazilian has built in her short time at 115-pounds.

Should Jedrzejczyk and the UFC decide to look elsewhere for their first strawweight title-fight in 2018, Andrade still has a couple of great potential bouts. Depending on how they do in what is likely their last fights of the year, Namajunas and Karolina Kowalkiewicz would make fantastic opponents for Andrade.

Making up the “We’ve lost to JJ” club, seeing how Andrade would do against others who’ve had to deal with Jedrzejczyk would be plenty interesting. If and when Jedrzejczyk makes the move to flyweight, someone is going to have to take her place. Recording a win over Gadelha likely earns Andrade a spot in that potential vacant title-bout, and another over either Namajunas or Kowalkiewicz would seal the deal.

That being said, what if Andrade is the superstar strawweight intersted in cecking out flyweight?


It may be the place to be in women’s MMA soon, and considering the quality of her fights in 2017, Andrade may want to consider giving the UFC’s flyweight division a crack. Of course, following an impressive win over Gadelha and the run at 115-pounds that she’s had, it’s more likely Andrade sticks around at strawweight. But, don’t completely rule flyweight out.

With at least five fights at both 135-pounds and 115-pounds in the UFC, while never missing weight, logic would tell us that Andrade could easily make 125-pounds. Depending on how the chips fall to close out the year, and the landscape of the UFC’s women’s divisions throughout 2018, Andrade could find the opportunity to make the jump for a major fight.

She’s already successfully shown she has the guts to make big moves in her career that she felt would lead to success. If flyweight becomes that next path, don’t be surprised to see Andrade fighting in the UFC’s newest division in the future.


The UFC’s women’s bantamweight division is in rough shape. Former champions Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey don’t look like they’ll be rejoining the fun anytime soon, while other former champion Holly Holm seems set on a featherweight title bout with Cris Cyborg. Now that we’ve been treated to Nunes-Shevchenko 2, and Shevchenko’s announced her flyweight plans, the division could use some contenders.

Currently, Raquel Pennington looks like the best option for Nunes’ next attempt at defending her title. As mentioned before, Andrade is currently 1-1 against Pennington, her last bantamweight foe in September of 2015.

The odds that, after all of her work at strawweight, and adjusting her body to fighting 20-pounds lighter, Andrade wants to go back to where she’s already been are slim. Should flyweight lure some contenders from bantamweight in the coming years, and Nunes continue her reign atop the division, a fresh contender with a well-known name might not be the worst idea.

Again, unlikely given Andrade’s current standing and recent success at strawweight. But it is definitely an option, one that will probably be on the table for some time if the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division continues it’s decline.

Fighters aren’t used to having options, or any sort of control over their careers. Oftentimes in situations where decisions are agreed to under less than ideal circumstances, fighters tend to struggle. Rather than continuing to be in tough spots in a rough division, Jessica Andrade took a risk, and paved her own path. Her well-earned reward after not only taking the risk, but winning fights, is a flexibility that many fighters dream of.

She’s doing great at strawweight, and is likely headed toward another title-shot in 2018. But, Andrade has the proven ability to switch-gears and adjust her goals when the moment is right, so don’t be surprised if she does so again in the future. Either way, her fights are incredibly entertaining, and we’ll be watching regardless of which division she’s in.