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Jessica Andrade: Joanna Jedrzejczyk has to win fights to earn UFC title shot

Jessica Andrade captured the UFC strawweight championship with a KO win in Brazil.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jessica Andrade slammed Rose Namajunas to capture the UFC strawweight championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 11, and is in no rush to point out who should be the next in line for the belt.

Namajunas outstruck the challenger in the opening round, leaving her bleeding with accurate punches, but the new titleholder swears it was no surprise. With the help of leg kicks, Andrade says she managed to slow “Thug” down and eventually secure the finish with the brutal slam.

“I knew that the first round would be like that,” Andrade told MMA Fighting. “I knew that I’d get beat up, that she would punch me and cut me, that there would be blood. I knew that the first round would be really tough, but it would be my moment to study her and know what to do in the second round.”

Andrade expected to lose the opening round. In fact, she says if was part of PRVT leader Gilliard Parana’s plan.

“My master told me in the locker room, ‘If she tries to go for an armbar or a guillotine, slam her. Don’t give her your back,’” Andrade said. “We trained that in the locker room. He told me not to worry about losing the first round, it was meant to be like that so we could see what we had to go for in the next rounds.”

Despite some post-fight criticism online, an attempt to question the legality of the throw that finished the contest, Andrade simply won’t pay any attention.

“I’ll tell you this, it didn’t bother me,” Andrade said. “I think that those who said that don’t really understand about fighting because I didn’t do a spike, it was a slam. She went down like that because she kept holding my arm. If you watch my fights, I do that all the time. I’ve done that against Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), against Claudia Gadelha, against Tecia Torres. It was a slam. So, yeah, it doesn’t bother me.”

Winner of four in a row now — and 7-1 since moving down from bantamweight to strawweight —, “Bate Estaca” would happily grant Namajunas an immediate rematch if she wants one. It’s still up in the air if the former titleholder will ever get back to the Octagon after an honest post-fight interview in Rio de Janeiro, so the line of 115-pound contenders gets a busy confusing.

Rising prospect Tatiana Suarez is slated to meet Nina Ansaroff at UFC 238 on June 8. Michelle Waterson, victorious in her last three UFC bouts, was in Rio de Janeiro to watch UFC 237 cageside, hoping to be the one to challenge the winner of Namajunas-Andrade next.

For Andrade, the next in line is between the winner of Suarez-Ansaroff or Waterson. As for Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the last woman to beat Andrade in the eight-sided cage, “Bate Estaca” tells her to get back in the cage to earn a shot.

“Everybody expects me to fight Joanna, but she has to work and try to get another opportunity to fight for the belt,” Andrade said. “When I fought her and lost, I had to get back in there and win three fights against the three high-ranked fighters to earn another chance.”

Jedrzejczyk lost her UFC belt six months after defeating Andrade via decision at UFC 211, getting knocked out in one round by Namajunas. The duo met again five months later, with Namajunas emerging victorious via decision. Jedrzejczyk got back to the winning column last July, defeating Tecia Torres, but failed in her attempt to capture the flyweight championship against Valentina Shevchenko in December.

“For her to fight me, she has to do the same,” Andrade said of Jedrzejczyk. “She has to get some wins, fight the higher-ranked girls, and then, if she wins, she’ll have the chance to fight me. I do believe that the next in line will be the winner of Nina vs. Tatiana or Michelle Waterson. I’ll wait. When the UFC calls me, I’ll be ready.”

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