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Jessica Andrade believes champ Julianna Peña is ‘no doubt’ easier to beat than top UFC strawweights, flyweights

MMA: UFC 266-Andrade vs Calvillo
Jessica Andrade
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jessica Andrade is the only women to score wins in three UFC weight classes, having finished opponents from strawweight all the way to bantamweight. And “Bate-Estaca” sees the 135-pound champion, Julianna Peña, as an easier foe than those lighter than her.

Speaking on the most recent episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Andrade said beating the woman who dethroned MMA legend Amanda Nunes could be easier than topping the likes of Valentina Shevchenko, Carla Esparza, Rose Namajunas, Weili Zhang, or Joanna Jedrzejczyk at 115 or 125 pounds.

“In theory, it’s easier to fight Julianna, especially for what she’s showed against Amanda,” Andrade said. “I really think it was more of Amanda [losing than Peña winning], because Amanda is way better than what she’s showed. She was submitted with no hooks in, you could see the pressure wasn’t too much. But I don’t know how Amanda’s weight cut was — it was two years since her last fight [at bantamweight], so something might have affected and led to that. She got tired so quickly. It wasn’t the Amanda we’re used to watching. Maybe she will show the Amanda we know in this rematch and get the belt back.

“If that doesn’t happen, I really think it’s easier to fight Julianna than the girls at 125 and 115. I hope we get the opportunity to fight one day and it’s for the belt. I think it’s the easier matchup, no doubt. We’re used to fighting girls at 125 and 115, who are faster and have power in their strikes, and people at 135 are slower, I think due to their weight and how they move. So if you get them tired, it’s over. I get better round after round, I don’t get tired, I don’t slow down, and that would be a good key for me to beat Julianna and maybe win the 135-pound belt.”

Andrade was scheduled to face Peña at UFC 171 back in 2014, months after the Brazilian scored her first octagon victory over Rosi Sexton and “The Venezuelan Vixen” won The Ultimate Fighter 18. But Peña withdrew due to a knee injury and was sidelined for years. Andrade went on to defeat short-notice replacement Raquel Pennington via decision.

The Brazilian ended up cutting to 115 pounds years later and became UFC champion. She has jumped up and down between strawweight and flyweight in recent years, finishing Amanda Lemos and Cynthia Calvillo in back-to-back fights.

“Maybe we can risk going to 135 again in the future just so I can prove people that I really won in three weight classes, but only in the final stages of my career,” Andrade said. “It could be a cool option. Fighting Julianna could be a cool test for me. Imagine that, becoming champion at 135?

“Since there’s no one to fight me at 115 and 125, put me to fight for the belt at 135. It’s an option. I’m ready for everything. I’m living here [in Las Vegas] now, so it’s much easier. If you need me, just knock on my door and I’m in.”

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