Former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade wants to change things up in the post-pandemic world, moving to Las Vegas with her coach and main training partners.
“Bate Estaca,” coach Gilliard Parana and PRVT teammates flew to Las Vegas in early-April to make sure travel restrictions wouldn’t prevent her from facing Rose Namajunas on April 18. However, Anrade and her team had to return to Niteroi, Brazil, when the matchup fell through and the whole UFC 249 show was eventually shut down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
During their stay in Las Vegas, Andrade’s crew were looking for a place to train and got in touch with experienced strength and conditioning coach Rafael Alejarra, who just finished building his new gym in the city but hasn’t had the chance to open it due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Alejarra made a name for himself by training multiple Brazilian MMA legends such as Wanderlei Silva, Cris Cyborg, Demian Maia and Ronaldo Souza, and Parana dreamed about working with him since his days as a professional MMA fighter. A coach of several UFC fighters now, Parana discussed a possible partnership with Alejarra.
“You can train in Brazil and become champion,” Parana told MMA Fighting, “But since we’re in such a high level, especially Jessica, it’s important for us to learn English, get closer to the American fans, and be close to the UFC office and the Performance Institute in Las Vegas.”
Parana plans to travel to Las Vegas alongside Andrade for one or two months to see how things go as soon as the health crisis is under control, and then welcome other talents from the PRVT stable to the United States.
UFC’s Karol Rosa and Priscila Cachoeira will likely join them in Las Vegas, as well as prospects Mairon Santos and Luis Felipe Dias, the coach said. According to Parana, PRVT will “continue to roll” in Niteroi, but they will begin to work internationally as well.
“I met Parana during Jessica’s last camp here and had the opportunity to work with her for some time, and we ended up discussing this partnership,” Alejarra told MMA Fighting. “I’m opening a gym here in Las Vegas and it’s more focused on conditioning, but we’ll have an octagon, jiu-jitsu classes, muay thai and boxing. It’s a MMA gym. We’ll work hard to expand and make a strong team.”
Andrade’s future in the octagon is still yet-to-be-defined. The former 115-pound titleholder currently can’t compete on U.S. soil due to the lack of proper work visa, so a “Fight Island” bout would be the only option available until U.S. embassies are once again open in Brazil.
A rematch with Namajunas still interests the team, Parana said, but so does any other top contender in the strawweight class.
“We don’t choose fights,” Parana said. “If it’s Rose, great. If it’s someone else, that’s fine too. I think that a good win over Rose could take us back to the title. Jessica is a high-level fighter and we can’t chose opponents.”
“She has what it takes to beat anyone, including Weili Zhang,” he added. “We sat down and talked a lot after Weili Zhang’s fight with Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), and we definitely think we can win this.”