Jessica Andrade made a very strong statement with her win on Friday night as she bloodied and battered former title contender Claudia Gadelha en route to a lopsided decision in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night in Japan.
Andrade entered the fight as the underdog to Gadelha, who was off two straight wins, including a lightning quick submission over Karolina Kowalkiewicz earlier this year. By the time the fight was over, Andrade not only bounded back from a loss in her last fight, but she proved who is the best strawweight in the UFC not named Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Gadelha looked sharper than ever on the feet in the early going, as she was technical in the pocket while connecting with several stinging shots with Andrade attempting to fire back with big, looping punches.
As the round moved forward, Gadelha continuously landed with her straight punches, as Andrade just couldn’t get her head out of the way from eating shots.
Gadelha was also doing damage on the inside after she grabbed onto Andrade's head with one hand before blasting away with a string of uppercuts that opened a nasty cut on her opponent's head.
With about two minutes to go in the opening session, Andrade finally swooped inside and landed a massive slam as she flung Gadelha to the mat with a resounding thud. Gadelha got right back to her feet and tried to latch onto a guillotine choke, but Andrade quickly slipped free before blasting away with some hard ground and pound, opening up a cut of her own, before the horn sounded.
As the second round got underway, Gadelha wasted no time looking for the takedown, but Andrade simply overpowered her as she reversed positions by just pushing her around on the mat.
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Once the fighters worked back to the feet, Andrade was absolutely unrelenting with her attacks, as a cut on Gadelha's face opened up even more and the blood was splashing across her face with every punch landed.
Andrade would not slow down as she continued to fire punches that snapped Gadelha from side to side, even when she was blocking the shots. With about 10 seconds remaining, Gadelha sank another standing guillotine choke, but time ran out before she could lock up the submission.
In between rounds, Gadelha told her corner that she was really struggling to see with all the blood in her eye, but she still came out looking to engage as the final five minutes got underway.
Andrade was quick to get inside after an early exchange and she once again tossed Gadelha to the mat in near effortless fashion as she transitioned to a damaging ground attack. Andrade refused to slow down, punishing Gadelha with a brutal assault of punches and elbows.
When the final horn sounded, Andrade was quick to get up from the mat and jump on top of the cage to celebrate arguably the best performance of her UFC career over one of the best strawweight fighters on the planet.
The judges scored the fight 30-25, 30-27 and 30-26 in favor of Andrade, whose only loss in the strawweight division came to Jedrzejczyk in May.
It was quite a showing from Andrade, who becomes the only fighter outside of Jedrzejczyk to hold a win over Gadelha during her professional fighting career. While the victory won't likely earn her another title shot just yet, considering Andrade just fell to the champion earlier this year, she knows the path back and this victory was a great start.
“I have to keep on improving,” Andrade said afterwards about working her way back to Jedrzejczyk.
As for Gadelha, she falls to Andrade, which puts an end to her two-fight win streak after losing to Jedrzejczyk in her only shot at the title since joining the UFC roster.