Las Vegas, NV — Jessica Andrade returned to the win column Saturday at UFC 266 with a blistering TKO finish of Cynthia Calvillo in their flyweight scrap.
Immediately after, the Brazilian announced she wanted to return to strawweight.
“The moment is perfect, because I have the chance to maybe have a trilogy with Rose [Namajunas], or maybe have a rematch with [Weili] Zhang,” Andrade told Cageside Press following the win, speaking during her post-fight press scrum. “I know I’m good at 115, I know I’m good at 125, and I was good at 135 also. It depends on how the weight class is. I want be the champion again, and bring this belt back to Brazil, so that’s the reason.”
Timing is everything in MMA, so Andrade may have a point. As a former champ with history with both Namajunas (the pair’s career series is tied 1-1) and Zhang (who took her title), there’s a chance she could jump the line-up of title contenders. It might not sit well with fans, or fighters like Carla Esparza, but crazier things have happened.
As Andrade sees it, if she does get the opportunity, it could come against rival “Thug” Rose.
“I think Rose is gonna win,” Andrade predicted. “I think it’s not going to be as easy as the first one, but Rose has way more experience in the octagon, in the UFC, and she knows how to handle the pressure of being a UFC champion. I think this is going to make the difference, and I think Rose is going to win, maybe by decision.”
As the first woman in the UFC to reach 20 fights, Andrade has honed and refined her game arguably more than any other fighter on the women’s side. Saturday, she called it “a big, a huge evolution.”
Across those 20 fights, “I did learn a lot about my grappling game, my striking game, especially my boxing,” said Andrade. “At the beginning, my opponents could hit my face very easily. But now I know the moment that I can shoot a takedown, that I can throw a punch. So my game is way better, but I don’t know anything yet,” she continued, adding that she still has to “improve a lot of aspects of my game.”
Watch the full UFC 266 post-fight press scrum with Jessica Andrade above. More coverage of the event can be found below.