UFC 288: Jessica Andrade Has a Message for Strawweight Champ Zhang

Newark, NJ — Jessica Andrade has bounced around weight classes in recent years, stepping into short-notice opportunities and generally being something of an opportunist.

On Saturday at UFC 288, she returns to the strawweight division over which she once reigned, taking on another top 115lb’er in China’s Yan Xiaonan.

Her approach to fighting, the Brazilian said during Wednesday’s media day, “comes with a maturity, from the time I’ve had in my career and the time I’ve had as a fighter. It comes with experience, and having matured. And the maturity to understand that I’m a fighter, I’m a fighter for a living, that’s what I do and that’s what I do best.”

“So at that point,” Andrade (24-10) continued, “it doesn’t matter what division I’m actually in, it doesn’t matter what kind of anticipated warning for a fight [I get] at all— any time to prepare, I’ll be ready. Why? Because you’re mature, and you understand that that is it. That maturity allowed me to understand that I always need to be ready, and that the mind and the body need to be both ready. If your body’s ready but your mind is not ready, it doesn’t work. And the same [is true with] the opposite, when your mind is ready and your body isn’t. I know that now I have more maturity to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do, to be the fighter that I can be, and I think you can see the evolution also in my fights.”

With that maturity and that evolution in mind, Andrade added that “on Saturday, you’re going to see a different Jessica.”

The big question in the women’s strawweight division at the moment is when Weili Zhang will fight again — and who that fight will come against. As a former champ, Andrade has never been far from the title picture. It was Zhang who finished her in 2019 to claim the title, and it’s clear Andrade is hunting for a rematch.

“Of course I’m focused on the fight this Saturday, but we all know that if I have a convincing big win on Saturday, of course that’s who I want to fight. Especially because Weili hasn’t fought in such a long time. I expected the UFC to put her in a fight with Amanda Lemos, but that didn’t come to fruition,” said Andrade, who then addressed the champ directly. “Weili, if you’re watching me and you listen to me and you’re not training, start training. Because I’m ready for this, and it’s a fight that I’ve been wanting for a long time.”

Andrade also stands out in the UFC as one of the busier championship caliber fighters. That’s something she attributes to her mindset.

“I think that being active is always important because it keeps you in the mindset. The mindset of you always wanting to be prepared for a fight. So I’m always prepared for whenever they call me. Being active allows me to be ready for the next challenge.”

Watch the full UFC 288 media day appearance by Jessica Andrade above.


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