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Three years after selling own UFC gear to pay bills, Jessica Andrade celebrates financial stability ahead of UFC 261

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Jessica Andrade says her life changed after winning the UFC strawweight belt in 2019.
Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

A lot has changed in Jessica Andrade’s life since August 2018.

Andrade was days away from a fight with Karolina Kowalkiewicz, a win that would lead to her challenging — and defeating — Rose Namajunas to become UFC strawweight champion. But a lack of money was still a problem.

Preparing to enter the octagon for the 13th time in September of that year, the Brazilian fighter told reporters during a media day in Rio de Janeiro that sometimes she had to sell her own UFC gear to pay bills.

Three years later and three days away from challenging Valentina Shevchenko for the flyweight gold at UFC 261, Andrade said life is much better.

“The change was gigantic,” said Andrade in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I’ll tell you what, I never had to do any of that anymore.”

Andrade won extra $50,000 with a Performance of the Night bonus for her win over Kowalkiewicz, and then extra $100,000 for both the Performance and Fight of the Night bonuses when challenging Namajunas in Brazil. She went 1-2 in her next three UFC bouts after that, but pocketed $100,000 in bonuses following fights with Namajunas and Katlyn Chookagian in 2020.

“Thank God I was able to buy my mom a house, switched cars, and bought myself a house,” Andrade said. “I don’t lack money [anymore].”

Andrade says she has discussed the idea of opening a business alongside her wife Fernanda Gomes as an investment, but has since postponed plans because she’s focused on pursuing another UFC belt and currently has no time for that.

“My sister-in-law has moved in, and maybe we’ll open something now,” Andrade said. “It’s within the family so it’s easier, that’s someone you trust taking care of it for us. [Gomes] and I sit down and talk about it every day. Thank God now I’m able to take care of my mom, my house, help my teammates. It’s been wonderful. Great things happened over the past three years.”

It all changed when she won the UFC strawweight belt, Andrade said, and bigger things would come with a victory over 125-pound queen Shevchenko on Saturday at Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

“There were a lot of new opportunities after I won the belt,” Andrade said. “People look at you more when you’re the champion, UFC looks at you differently, you can negotiate bigger purses. … Becoming champion was great and completely changed my life financially. Becoming champion again will make it even better.”