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Jessica Andrade sharpened elbows to tear Yan Xiaonan apart at UFC 288

UFC 288 Press Conference
Jessica Andrade and Yan Xiaonan
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Jessica Andrade wants to make a statement in her return to the strawweight division by dismantling Yan Xiaonan at UFC 288 to secure another title shot against Zhang Weili.

The former UFC champion has bounced between weight classes over the past few years, coming up short in her attempt to clinch the flyweight throne, but she still has finished some of the best in two divisions.

Now, she said on this week’s episode of Trocação Franca podcast her plan is to stay at 115 pounds for good.

Xiaonan won a majority decision over jiu-jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern in her most recent octagon appearance in 2022, a complete contrast to what “Bate Estaca” plans to bring to the table in New Jersey.

“I’ll always do my best regardless of weight class, and I’ll always come with different things,” Andrade said. “For this fight I’m coming with sharper Muay Thai, so you might see some different kicks, some elbows and knees. I want to use everything I’ve trained.”

Andrade had moved to Las Vegas alongside longtime head coach Gilliard Paraná and the whole PRVT crew in 2022, but she decided to return to Brazil after her divorce. PRVT just opened a new gym in São José dos Pinhais, Brazil, and that’s where she plans on doing her training camps in the future. For this fight, however, the former UFC queen opted to work with Muay Thai specialist Ademir Mori in Atibaia, Brazil.

“I worked a lot on my Muay Thai, the elbows,” Andrade said. “My bones are sharp. [My teammates] said my elbows are pure bone now [laughs]. It’s mean to come in and tear it all apart.”

“The strategy is to stand and trade,” she added, “but I obviously can’t miss my timing with the takedowns and my jiu-jitsu. I’m becoming a complete athlete, and I hope to use everything I have Saturday against Yan.”

Andrade said Xiaonan “has a different style” and did a great job avoiding Dern’s takedowns with kicks to the knees this past October, “but I’m way faster and have heavy kicks.” If Xiaonan goes for the kill on the feet, Andrade predicts “one of us is getting knocked out, no doubt.”

With that in mind, “Bate Estaca” wants another chance to win back her UFC belt.

“I still don’t get why Weili [Zhang] hasn’t fought,” Andrade said of the UFC titleholder, who hasn’t defended the title since reclaiming it from Carla Esparza in November 2022. “She should have fought Amanda Lemos already — if that was the path the UFC wanted, since I was fighting at 125. She doesn’t have an opponent yet, she doesn’t have a fight booked, so if I win in devastating fashion, my option is to ask for a title shot against Weili.”

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