Back in May, the former UFC strawweight champion decided to focus her training camp on Muay Thai in order to “tear [Yan] apart,” but lost by knockout in minutes. Her longtime head coach Gilliard Parana gave a brutally honest take on the bout on social media, calling Andrade’s performance “s***” and saying it felt like she “was in Narnia” during the contest.
Andrade, one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster, seconds that opinion, so she wasted no time getting back in action, replacing the injured Virna Jandiroba against Suarez at Saturday’s event. She vows to return as a better athlete after learning important lessons.
“I was very confused during the [Yan] fight, I couldn’t do what I know or what I had just learned during the camp,” Andrade said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “My master sat down with me and said, ‘Kid, let’s do your camp back home again, with our team and people you know and love.’”
“Every athlete is subject to this, to getting in there and just blanking. It can happen even to the most experienced ones. I really didn’t feel fine. I trained well in the locker room but when I got to the fight, it felt like that Jessica from the locker room didn’t enter the octagon. I can’t explain what happened. I don’t know if I thought the fight would be easier and then the first kick and first punch changed my head. I tried doing what I had trained and it didn’t work, so [Parana] asked me to go back to takedowns and I rushed and got countered. It’s not the first time that happened. My fight with Weili Zhang was like that too. I tried to end it fast and let the emotions control me and ended up knocked out, but it happens.”
Andrade said she “felt the difference” after working with PRVT Girls again for the Suarez camp, adding that her preparation for UFC Nashville was just as great as it was leading into her three-round beatdown over Lauren Murphy at UFC 283 in January.
Suarez is 9-0 as a professional fighter and masterfully returned from a four-year hiatus to defeat Montana De La Rosa with a second-round submission in February.
“I always do well when I fight girls who are great,” Andrade said, laughing. “Maybe I imagine it’s going to be so hard that it’s not that hard when it starts. When I go in there thinking it’s going to be easy, I end up in trouble and it doesn’t work. Tatiana is a very tough opponent. My style of takedown defense is great for her, my takedowns and striking, so I’m looking forward to this one. I hope for the best to get back to the wins in the UFC.”
Andrade only fought once in 2022 after battling a lingering back injury, but now enters her fourth UFC fight in 2023. She hopes to become the No. 1 contender at 115 pounds.
“I believe that beating Tatiana puts me really close to a title shot,” Andrade said. “Amanda Lemos will fight Weili so I can ask for a rematch with whoever wins, in case the UFC doesn’t give Weili a rematch if she loses. But that’s a huge step yet to be taken. I’m focused on beating Tatiana. She has a huge name in the organization and that makes a difference. I’m sure I’ll be able to do my best in there.”