As she approaches her challenge for the undisputed UFC women’s flyweight title against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261 on April 24, Jessica Andrade has her eyes on history.
A former UFC strawweight champion, she looks to become only the second athlete in eight years since women arrived in the organization to win belts in multiple weight classes, joining her fellow Brazilian Amanda Nunes, who currently reigns over the featherweight and bantamweight divisions.
And that may happen in only her second fight at 125 pounds, after the 29-year-old made her flyweight debut last October, knocking out the then-number one contender and former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian in the first round.
“I don’t like being stuck in the same place,” said Andrade. “I think we must have dreams and ambitions to get better and improve everyday. It feels so good when I stop and think: look where I am, I’m fighting for a second belt in another weight class, and I might become the champion of another division.”
This ambitious nature makes Jessica not completely satisfied when picturing herself as the flyweight champion. In order to stay driven and hungry in the UFC, she doesn’t close the door on trying to recover the strawweight belt - which will also be on the line at UFC 261, when Zhang Weili faces Rose Namajunas - or even chasing the 135-pound belt, a weight class in which she competed from 2013 to 2015.
“It’s something I want to do in the future,” she said about the possibility of pursuing multiple championships. “And I think it might happen. It all depends on my work and everything I do in the organization.”
But thinking ahead doesn’t mean “Bate Estaca” isn’t entirely happy with being a 125er, or absolutely focused on the huge challenge she faces next.
Shevchenko will put her belt on the line for the fifth time this Saturday, and she’s still unbeaten in six UFC fights as a flyweight, with two wins by way of knockout and one by submission. Her latest victim was another Brazilian, Jennifer Maia, who she beat by unanimous decision last November.
UFC 261 FREE FIGHTS: Jessica Andrade vs Katlyn Chookagian | Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk 1 | Zhang Weili vs Jessica Aguilar | Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns | Valentina Shevchenko vs Jennifer Maia | Jorge Masvidal vs Donald Cerrone
“I think this new division made a real difference in my mood during training camp,” she said. “When I fought at 115, I had to worry a lot about eating and making weight, and getting mentally exhausted, thinking, ‘I’m getting too weak, this isn’t working.’
“Now I don’t worry about this anymore. I am capable of training well, strong and with the stamina to fight five rounds at the same pace”.
Despite putting emphasis on her ability to fight with high energy for 25 minutes, Jessica doesn’t want her encounter with Valentina to last this long. When asked how would a perfect fight look like, a scenario in which everything went according to her plan, she answered:
“The perfect thing would be to knock her out in the second or third round. The game plan is to take the fight to the ground, to get her arms tired so she loses a little bit of her speed, her stamina, her energy and her strength, which are things she has plenty of. A really perfect ending would be a second or third-round knockout for me.”