History-maker Jessica Andrade is looking to cause a storm in the UFC’s flyweight division, insisting she would not shy away from a match-up with feared champion Valentina Shevchenko having excelled on divisional debut in Abu Dhabi.
The former strawweight No 1, who competed at the inaugural Fight Island the capital in July, defeated top-ranked contender Katlyn Chookagian in the first round of the co-main event at UFC Fight Night on Sunday morning – the penultimate show on the promotion's second run on Yas Island.
In doing so, Andrade became the first woman in the UFC to register victories in three different divisions. The Brazilian had entered the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation at bantamweight.
“I feel really good,” Andrade told the media at the post-fight press conference at Flash Forum. “It’s one more accomplishment – one win in another division. I have to thank my master, my team, my wife, and let’s go to the next.
“I felt really well tonight. And if the UFC offers me a fight at 135 [lbs], 145 [lbs], we’ll see.”
With first flyweight test passed, Andrade is eying another title challenge, this time in her new weight class.
She believes she warrants the opportunity to face the winner of next month’s championship bout between Shevchenko and Jennifer Maia. The pair go head-to-head at UFC 255 on November 21.
“I think I can make a difference in this division,” Andrade said. “I can put up a fight against Valentina. It’s something that should have happened already in other organisations, so I’m going to make a difference and put on shows in this division.”
Andrade declared that she was even willing to step in at late notice should either Shevchenko or Maia have to withdraw from their fight, saying: “For sure. I’m going to stay ready. If that happens, I’ll be there if needed. In any other division – 135, 145 – I’ll be ready.
“We’ll fight wherever. Maybe with this fight [between] Jennifer-Valentina, the UFC’s going to want to have me fight another fight. But I’m the person to make the movement in this division – it’s exactly what it needs. It needs to do stirred around a little bit.
“I haven’t felt this happy and haven’t had this vigour to fight. I just feel very good tonight."
Gallery from UFC Fight Night
That was certainly evident in her performance in the early hours of Sunday at Flash Forum. Andrade rocked Chookagian with a body shot towards the conclusion of the opening round, ensuring she secured a rebound win following July’s defeat in her rematch with Rose Namajunas.
Andrade’s second Fight Island appearance earned her a $50,000 bonus for one of the two Performance of the Night handed out by UFC president Dana White.
"Thankfully I’m on a good bonus-winning streak and one of my goals has always been to buy my mum a house,” Andrade said. “So maybe next week I’m going to go down to my home state [in Brazil] to look into that. It’s always good to get a win and to get a bonus on top of that.”