It wasn’t long ago that Jessica Andrade was the reigning UFC strawweight champion of the world, after slamming Rose Namajunas on her head to become queen of the 115lbers.
While her reign didn’t last long in the UFC’s smallest weight class, Andrade has since proved that she can compete with the bigger girls too.
After losing the belt in under a minute to Weili Zhang in her first defence she then lost her rematch with Namajunas at UFC 251. Those two will now meet for the strawweight title at UFC 261, while Andrade has established herself as the number one contender at flyweight.
She made her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Island 6 against the then number one contender Kaitlyn Chookagian. She entered the fight knowing that with the credit in the bank from her run at 115lbs, a win over the top dog in a division light on contenders would likely earn her a shot at the title.
Andrade didn’t disappoint, with a first-round stoppage via body shots setting up this fight with Valentina Shevchenko.
Shevchenko is without a doubt the best flyweight in the history of women’s MMA. She has an elite striking game, mixed in with a dominant ground game when needed and flawless technique. Her record shows that, with her only defeats in the UFC coming via decisions against the consensus best ever Amanda Nunes.
She has dominated against everyone since moving into her natural 125lbs weight class, but her last bout against Jennifer Maia showed up a few holes in her game that hadn’t been shown up in this division before.
Maia was able to get her down and maintain top control for an entire round, landing some good ground and pound and threatening with submissions. Shevchenko survived the round, weathered the storm and went on to win comfortably, but it’s fair to say that Andrade is a much more dangerous prospect in that world than Maia was.
The reality is that Andrade is excellent everywhere. She has great striking with powerful hands and knockout power, tremendous wrestling and a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. No matter where the fight goes, she has the potential to win.
She will apply pressure and look to close distance and if she can get her hands locked for a takedown, who’s to say she can’t slam Shevchenko on her head like she did Namajunas?
The Brazilian is without a doubt the biggest threat to ‘Bullet’s crown. Look through it, nobody can do it all to such a high level like these two women can. When you check the top 15, the only woman who can really hold a candle to them in both the striking and ground game simultaneously seems to Taila Santos, and she’s ranked all the way down in 13th.
If Shevchenko can overcome the threat that Andrade poses, then the division will well and truly be cleared out and she may have to start considering super-fights.
But don’t rule Andrade out yet, because she’s good enough to steal the show.