Andrade Thinks Zhang Beats Jedrzejczyk, Namajunas Ready To Return
After staying in the same hands for two and a half years, while Joanna Jedrzejczyk held the UFC strawweight title, the 115lbs belt has been held by three different fighters in 2019. After Rose Namajunas defeated Joanna to win the title and then successfully defending the title against her, ‘Thug’ Rose would go on to lose the title to Jessica Andrade earlier this year. Who in turn, went on to lose the belt to the current champion, Zhang Weili.
Having experienced the ‘happy moments’ of being a UFC champion, Andrade wants to work her way back up to title contention again. And the 28 year old is hoping to get back inside the UFC Octagon by the end of the year, stating that she is willing to fight at UF Busan on December 21st. As the former champion told MMA Fighting.
“I would like to fight again this year, even if it’s at the last card of the year in South Korea. Let’s wait and see what the UFC has to offer. I never pick opponents, so whoever they bring, I’m in.”
Andrade explained how she was saddened by losing her title the Zhang but gave her Chinese opponent full credit for winning the title.
“I was super well-trained and prepared, but her hand landed first. The fight started, and I connected a few strikes and she moved backward. That’s when I thought, ‘That’s it, I got her,’ and when I went back to that super-aggressive-Jessica, throwing hands at will, that’s when she landed. She got me nice on the chin and rocked me. She was better than me.
“I lost the belt, but I haven’t lost anything I’ve achieved in the UFC and for my country. The only thing that really hurt was seeing the belt around her waist instead of mine. My master [Gilliard Parana] and Fernanda were there to remind me that we built a great story in the UFC, and no one can take that away from me. We’ll win the belt again, no doubt. It was sad, but we had happy moments, too.”
Zhang currently doesn’t have her first title defence booked yet, but after Joanna defeated Michelle Waterson in the UFC Tampa main event, the Polish fighter put herself in a strong position to get the first shot at China’s fight ever UFC champion.
Along with Tecia Torres, Andrade is one of only two fighters to have faced both Joanna and Weili. With this experience in mind, the Brazilian assessed who she thinks would win in a fight between the two.
“A fight with Joanna would be very interesting. Joanna is one of the best in the division, and she has evolved a lot, as we saw in her last fight. Weili Zhang is very strong, is really fast on the feet, so I it would be really interesting.
“It’s a hard one to predict who would win, but I’d bet on Weili Zhang. I think she would continue to reign, because of her strength. Even though she’s not the type of fighter that goes for takedowns and prefers to stay on the feet, she’s very strong and kicks really hard – something Joanna doesn’t handle that well.”
Rose Namajunas: I’ll Fight Again
And it looks like the UFC strawweight scene will be even more interesting in 2020, after Namajunas announced that she plans to return to the Octagon.
After losing the UFC strawweight title at UFC 237, Rose casted a doubt over her fighting future, whilst addressing the media in the post fight press conference. However, the former champion said this week on The Ariel Helwani Show, that she has found her passion for MMA and fighting again.
“I’ll fight again. It’s kind of one of those things where you get a little emotional. But it’s just like I lost the passion for martial arts and fighting, mainly for fighting. But I found my passion again. I went mack to Minnesota to see one of my former coaches from earlier on in my amateur career, Greg Nelson. He’s just an inspiration for me.”
With so many exciting fighters competing in the UFC strawweight division, who do you think will be the champion this time next year?