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Jessica Andrade thinks build-up to UFC 211 has been ‘very unusual’ for Joanna Jedrzejczyk

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UFC 211 Open Workout Photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

DALLAS — It’s no secret that Jessica Andrade and UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk are more than a little familiar.

Andrade and Jedrzejczyk were friends not too long ago, having shared a manager throughout their UFC rise and having trained together numerous times. That relationship ultimately changed as Jedrzejczyk switched management teams and Andrade dropped down from bantamweight to the 115-pound division, but a friendliness between the two still exists, and it’s lent a unique dynamic to the match-up ahead of their title tilt at UFC 211.

“This has been a very unusual fight for Joanna,” Andrade said through a translator Thursday at UFC 211 open workouts, “the way that she [handled] media day and everything regarding the opponent. We’ll see how that plays out during the fight, but in the end, it’s mostly about that — we just have a lot of respect for each other and whoever’s the best that night is going to win.”

That respect showed itself again at UFC 211 media day, when Jedrzejczyk abstained from her usual aggressive routine when squaring off with Andrade. It’s been an interesting shift to watch for the champion, as the lead-up to UFC 211 has been noticeably less contentious than the average Jedrzejczyk fight.

And while Andrade knows that Jedrzejczyk’s game has evolved in the time since the two strawweights last trained together, the familiarity between the two still gives Andrade a unique insight into the evolutions of Jedrzejczyk’s game.

“Honestly, I’ve watched pretty much all of her fights, also because we were colleagues for the longest time, so we just followed each other’s careers,” Andrade said. “The interesting thing is that she’s always showing improvement from fight to fight, and the last one (at UFC 205), I think, is the one that taught me the most, but not necessarily in a good side, just because she fought very different than what she was fighting before. So I think we can take note of that fight as a good example of things to come.”

Notably, Jedrzejczyk’s fight at UFC 205 against Karolina Kowalkiewicz was the first fight for the champion following her camp switch to American Top Team (ATT).

Jedrzejczyk prepared for UFC 211 at ATT as well, and the difference between champion and challenger in that regard was never more stark than on the UFC’s Countdown special to promote the fight. While cameras filmed Jedrzejczyk readying herself among an army of coaches and nutritionists at ATT’s new world-class facility in Coconut Creek, Andrade went to work within the much more modest confines of the Paraná Vale Tudo gym in Paraná, Brazil.

But Andrade isn’t sweating the obvious disparity between the resources available to her and Jedrzejczyk, because she knows better than anyone that not long ago Jedrzejczyk was just like her — a hungry challenger preparing under similar circumstances.

“That’s the thing, it’s not that much about the building. It’s about the feeling that you have in there,” Andrade said. “That’s the place where I signed my UFC contract, that’s where I did the camp for most of my fights. That’s the place that made me the fighter that I am today. And Joanna might be at ATT right now, but a couple of fights ago, you could see she had the same humble beginnings, and honestly I wouldn’t trade what I have for any team in the world.

“I have so many people behind me, not just my family but my team and everybody that is there supporting me,” Andrade continued. “And if the money comes [to] me, for sure, it’s going to get to everybody and we’re going to be able to make a lot of people’s lives better. My big plan is to, if everything goes right, I’m going to bring my mom to live with me in Rio and my little sister. So, hopefully I can give her that for Mother’s Day on Sunday.”