Jessica Andrade is accustomed to outmuscling her opposition, but Valentina Shevchenko gave her a taste of her own medicine when they fought at UFC 261.

After a quick finish of former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian, former UFC strawweight champion Andrade (21-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) challenged reigning flyweight champ Shevchenko (21-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) in April. Looking to neutralize Shevchenko’s striking with her grappling, Andrade was caught off guard when she was the one taken down and eventually finished on the ground.

“I was somewhat surprised when I faced Valentina,” Andrade told MMA Junkie. “We put together a strategy for her, but she brought a different game. After she took me down, I found myself in the place I planned to have her. That’s my game – it’s what I do in my fights. It confused me that she took me down, in my style, since she’s such a good striker. But each fight is unique.

“Someone has to win, and someone has to lose. It wasn’t my day. With a rematch, I’m very confident I’ll be ready for everything – takedowns and striking. I feel if she had chosen to use her boxing or muay Thai, I would have done a lot better.”

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Andrade’s road back to a title shot starts Saturday when she opens up the UFC 266 main card against Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC), a challenge she isn’t taking lightly.

“I see Cynthia as a great fighter,” Andrade said. “She has a very good record in the UFC. Despite coming from a loss, she’s not a weak opponent. I’ve been training everywhere to get ready for her. I feel I’m going to do well. At flyweight, I don’t have to cut as much weight, so I feel very strong. She’s not much taller, so height won’t be a factor. I’m confident we’ll have an excellent fight and will be putting on a show.”

Andrade, who’s lost three of her past four, remains the No. 1 ranked flyweight having lost to just the champion. But despite holding the top spot, the Brazilian knows she’ll likely need a few more wins before earning another crack at the title.

“I’m very happy with my spot,” Andrade said. “Even having lost recently, I lost to champions. It wasn’t to just anyone. I remain well ranked. Whenever I’ve switched weight classes, I found myself in a good spot. At strawweight, I was No. 2, climbed to one, and eventually became the champion. I recently entered flyweight. I won my first bout, and lost the next one to Valentina Shevchenko, who is the current champion. And I remain ranked at No. 1.

“As such, I’m very happy with my performances and my work. Each loss gives further motivation to train harder and return better. At least, that’s how it is with me. Now I’m looking forward to another win. And, without a doubt, if I beat one or two opponents after that, I’ll get another shot at the belt. I’m satisfied with the work I’ve been putting in with my team.”


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