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Jessica Andrade sells own UFC gear to make ends meet, but happy with UFC pay

Jessica Andrade returns against Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 228 in Dallas.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Jessica Andrade will enter the UFC cage for the 14th time on Sept. 8, and the biggest reason why she took the fight is money.

Andrade faces Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 228 in Dallas, looking to score her third straight win and potentially guarantee a meeting with Rose Namajunas for the 115-pound championship next. “Bate Estaca” says she could’ve waited for Namajunas, but need to get paid.

Speaking with Brazilian reporters during a UFC media day Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, Andrade complained about lack of sponsors interested in investing in MMA fighters in Brazil, revealing that she sells her UFC gear sometimes to be able to pay her bills.

”I’m going to my 14th fight in the UFC and it’s really difficult to get sponsors, to get people who want to help you financially,” Andrade said. “Sometimes we have to sell UFC clothes, backpack, gloves, stuff like that, to make some extra money to finish a camp. It’s quite difficult, but we go on.”

”I think it would be great if we had a bigger incentive from the government and the city in sports,” she continued. “Not only in fighting, but it lacks a lot for all sports. It would be great if we had this support from people, from businessman, to say ‘we will help.’ Even if it’s only with 500 reais ($120), because 500 reais makes a huge difference by the end of the month [laughs].”

Andrade’s disclose pay for her most recent fight, a decision victory over Tecia Torres in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 28, was $96,000 ($48,000 + $48,000) The one-time UFC title challenger considers her pay fair, and believes other female athletes are more active in the UFC because they don’t get paid as much as her.

”I have nothing to complain with the UFC because I get paid really well in the UFC,” Andrade said. “I think you’re paid according to your work, and I think that’s really cool. That’s why I want to be fighting all the time, to show that I’m the best, that I’m evolving, because the more you show, the more you get paid.”

Entering the fifth fight of her current eight-bout deal with the UFC, Andrade hopes to sign a new contract with the company before a championship clash with Namajunas.

”I’m expecting an improvement, but it’s getting better,” Andrade said. “One day I will be able to invest in some other thing and won’t have this problem of having to fight only to get paid.”

Asked if it’s “frustrating” to have to sell her training and fight gear to pay bills and see UFC president Dana White mention in an recent interview that the UFC brand is now worth $7 billion after their television deal with ESPN, “Bate Estaca” said she has to “go through difficulties to grow.”

”It’s difficult, but we get by the way we can, right?” Andrade said. “I usually am a strong person and I don’t show anything to others even if I’m going through some difficulties, not even for my master (Gilliard Parana). I get by, Fernanda and I, my mother-in-law. Sometimes we bake a cake and sell, we get by the way we can. It’s sad that we have to sell our training gear, things we get in fights that are a good memory of what we had there, but we’ll get new stuff later [laughs]. I have so many of these white hoodies with my name on that no problem selling one, right? [laughs].”

”We have to go through difficulties to grow,” she continued. “Even though the UFC is millionaire, trillionaire, we have to live our reality. Unfortunately, the UFC makes all that, we don’t. But I’m happy with my job, happy with my salary. I never imagined I would be making as much as I make. My master usually says in training, ‘Jessica made a million reais ($241,765) last year. I look at him and say ‘you liar, I didn’t make that much, it was a bit less’ [laughs], but it’s about knowing how to invest. When I learn to invest in something that brings a result, everything will be alright and I won’t go through many difficulties.”

Planning on investing her money in restaurants or a supermarket, the Brazilian strawweight, who turns 27 in September, hopes that the UFC would bring back more “extra” bonuses.

”When I got in the UFC, we would always get a little extra pay-per-view bonus and everything else,” Andrade said. “We won’t make that much anymore because of Reebok. But we would always get an extra percentage of the card. So if it was a good card, every athlete would get a small percentage of the pay-per-view, a percentage of the video game. We don’t get that today anymore.

”I think that should come back, us getting those extra little bonuses. In my first fights, I got $8,000 outside of my purse and sponsors. When I was short of money, that little bonus came and wow, that really helped [laughs]. That was great, that really helped us. I think we should have that again.

”But I’m really happy with my job, really happy with how much I’m paid. I think it can get better, but it’s good for me for now. I only have to know how to take care of my money [laughs].”

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