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Jessica Andrade risking UFC title shot for money, but confident she’ll KO Karolina Kowalkiewicz

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Jessica Andrade has won five of six since moving down to strawweight.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

With consecutive wins over Claudia Gadelha and Tecia Torres, Jessica Andrade was given two options by the UFC: wait for strawweight champion Rose Namajunas and return in the fourth quarter of 2018, or get back in action in September against Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

The UFC ultimately booked Andrade vs. Kowalkiewicz for Sept. 8 in Dallas, Texas, and the Brazilian has a pretty simple reason as to why she chose to fight at UFC 228 and risk a second shot at the championship belt: money.

“I couldn’t stay out for that long,” Andrade told MMA Fighting. “Even if I win the belt and bring it home, I want to stay active. I’m not that type of fighter that fights one or two times a year. Staying out makes you lose focus, lose rhythm. I have to fight.

“They said (Namajunas) wouldn’t come back before October, and I said ‘no, get me a fight sooner because I need money,’ and they got me this fight with Karolina. I know I’m ready and everything will be alright.”

“Bate Estaca” has already “risked” a shot at the UFC gold before, agreeing to face Angela Hill when she had already been offered a chance against then-champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Andrade made that decision in 2017 to become a better fighter before challenging Jedrzejczyk, but this time is more about money.

“We end up fighting because we need it,” said Andrade, who only fought once in 2018. “We only get paid when we fight, unfortunately, so they pretty much force us to fight sooner instead of going for the belt. In my case, it’s tough for me financially, and also for my master, so that’s why I was asking for a fight for so long.

“When we have to wait for the titleholder’s willingness to defend, I said ‘you know what, I’ll fight again.’ I know I’m ready and I will win this fight. It will prove I’m ready. It’s my job and I have to fight.”

Another good thing about facing Kowalkiewicz is that she gets to fight someone who has already beaten the current champion in the past, testing her skills in a three-round bout.

“Beating her the same way she beat Namajunas, in the stand-up area, shows me my striking has really evolved. That’s my focus,” Andrade said. “My ground game already is really good, but I needed to work on a few things in my striking, and this fight will show me if I have improved or not. Namajunas has evolved a lot since that loss, I know it won’t be easy, but this fight will show me if I’m ready to fight for the belt.”

The confident PRVT talent, 5-1 since cutting down to 115 pounds, envisions the perfect ending for the No. 1 contender fight in September.

“God willing — and I know he wants — I think I can end this fight in the second round with a knockout,” Andrade said. “I’ll go for the knockout all the time. I won’t go for takedowns even if the Pope gets there and asks me to do it [laughs].”