Jessica Andrade will take her swings at immortality when she challenges Valentina Shevchenko for the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s flyweight title in a UFC 261 co-feature on Saturday at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. A victory would make Andrade the eighth two-division champion—she would become just the second woman to achieve the feat—in UFC history.
Operating out of the Parana Vale Tudo camp in her native Brazil, Andrade has rattled off eight wins across her past 11 appearances. The 29-year-old last competed at UFC Fight Night 180, where she turned away Katlyn Chookagian with a burst of body punches in the first round of their Oct. 17 pairing.
As Andrade prepares for her showdown with Shevchenko, a look at five of the moments that have come to define her:
1. Too Much Too Soon
Team Hurricane Awesome’s Liz Carmouche spoiled Andrade’s promotional debut, as she dispatched the Brazilian newcomer with some serious ground-and-pound in the second round of their UFC on Fox 8 women’s bantamweight showcase on July 27, 2013 at KeyArena in Seattle. Carmouche finished it 3:57 into Round 2. The Lafayette, Louisiana, native struck for multiple takedowns and weathered an attempted guillotine choke from Andrade in the first round. In the second, Carmouche delivered another takedown, passed to side control, mounted the Parana Vale Tudo export and threatened her with a rear-naked choke before unleashing her ground-and-pound. Transitioning between back control and full mount, Carmouche dropped heavy punches and sharp elbows with authority, ultimately forcing the stoppage with an accumulation of blows.
2. New Digs
A rabid Andrade downshifted to 115 pounds and wrecked onetime Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Jessica Penne with punches in the second round of their UFC 199 prelim on June 4, 2016 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Andrade brought it to a close 2:56 into Round 2, announcing herself as an immediate person of interest in the women’s strawweight division. Penne never stood a chance. Andrade ripped into her with savage multi-punch volleys to the head and body, as she bottled up the Alliance MMA rep along the fence. She doubled over an increasingly helpless Penne with a body shot in the waning moments of the first round. The minute-long break between rounds changed nothing. Andrade picked up where she left off in the second, closed the distance and let her hands go until referee Jason Herzog had seen enough to call for a standing stoppage.
3. Business Left Unfinished
Joanna Jedrzejczyk pitched a mesmerizing shutout, as she retained the undisputed women’s strawweight championship with a clear-cut unanimous decision over Andrade in the UFC 211 co-main event on May 13, 2017 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Jedrzejczyk swept the scorecards with 50-45, 50-44 and 50-45 marks from the judges. Andrade had the will but not the means with which to dethrone the champion. Jedrzejczyk developed a hematoma on her forehead in the first round but made certain virtually everything else went her way. She utilized a punishing jab, attacked the challenger’s base with kicks to the lower leg and mixed in blinding punching combinations to the body and head, drawing her further down the rabbit hole with each passing minute. Even when Andrade closed the distance and clinched with the American Top Team superstar, she was met with knees to the body and short standing elbows. The outcome was never in doubt.
4. Grand Slam
Andrade took possession of the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight title with a devastating slam knockout of Rose Namajunas in the UFC 237 headliner on May 11, 2019 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Namajunas handed over the 115-pound crowd 2:58 into Round 2. “Thug Rose” floored Andrade with a first-round knee strike, fed her an unhealthy diet of jabs, utilized superior footwork and generally outstruck the Parana Vale Tudo standout across seven-plus minutes of an exhilarating affair. Momentum shifted in Round 2 and did so dramatically. Andrade bullied the champion to the fence, executed a high-crotch lift—a maneuver she had attempted on two prior occasions—and drove her headfirst into the canvas. The impact separated Namajunas from her senses and made Andrade the fourth strawweight champion in UFC history.
5. Stepping Aside
Weili Zhang needed less than a minute to ensure she would be remembered forever. The Black Tiger Fight Club star carved up Andrade with punches, knees and elbows, as she captured the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight title in the UFC Fight Night 157 main event on Aug. 31, 2019 at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzhen, China. Zhang drew the curtain 42 seconds into Round 1, becoming the first Chinese champion in UFC history. Andrade engaged the challenger at close range and walked into an ambush. Zhang clipped her with a right hook, invited her into the clinch and cut loose with standing elbows and rapid-fire knee strikes. Andrade stumbled backward, ate more punches and collapsed at the base of the cage, leaving referee Leon Roberts no choice but to intervene on her behalf.