- MMA columnist for ESPN.com
- Analyst for “MMA Live”
- Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun
Welcome back to the strawweight division, Jessica Andrade.
Andrade (23-9) submitted Amanda Lemos (11-2-1) via standing arm-triangle choke just 3:13 into their UFC Fight Night main event Saturday in Las Vegas. The early finish marked the first by standing arm-triangle choke in UFC history.
It was also Andrade’s first appearance at 115 pounds since July 2020. The former strawweight champion left the division following a split decision loss to current champ Rose Namajunas. She moved up to 125 pounds and performed well, compiling a 2-1 record. Her only loss came in a title fight against dominant champion Valentina Shevchenko. Although she was successful at flyweight, Andrade has said strawweight is her ideal weight.
“That’s the thing,” Andrade said through a translator. “I took a little break at flyweight, but this is my division. This is where I will perform the best. I know I’m going to perform for a title again. If I have to climb back up again, that’s what I’ll do. But if there is a spot to fight for the belt, give it to me.”
Andrade, of Parana, Brazil, will likely need to win at least one more fight before vying for a title again — but she’s already back in the conversation.
The 30-year-old veteran is unquestionably one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters on the planet. Lemos went into the main event Saturday on a five-fight win streak that included three first-round finishes. She held the No. 10 spot in the UFC’s official rankings.
None of that mattered against Andrade. Lemos had early success with leg kicks and the right hand, but once Andrade caught Lemos against the fence and asserted her physicality, it was game over. Andrade has fought as high as the 135-pound bantamweight division, and has a complete highlight reel of her overwhelming opponents at different weights. That was the case again Saturday, as she locked in the rare standing finish.
Andrade has actually fought Namajunas twice already. She took the UFC title from Namajunas in a TKO victory in 2019, but surrendered the belt in her first attempted defense against Zhang Weili. Namajunas recaptured the belt by defeating Zhang in 2020. She is scheduled to defend it next against Carla Esparza at UFC 274 on May 7 in Phoenix.
Andrade has now won back-to-back contests inside the first round. Lemos falls to 5-2 in the UFC.
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