Claudia Gadelha faces one of her biggest rivals at UFC 225 when she takes on Carla Esparza Saturday night in Chicago, but she’s still open to a third bout with another longtime foe.
Gadelha has faced former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk twice inside the Octagon, losing both contests via decision. Gadelha, who in some people’s eyes deserved to win the first encounter in 2014, says she still wants a third crack at Jedrzejczyk in the future.
”Fighting Joanna still interests me a lot,” Gadelha told MMA Fighting. “I’m sure I won the first time. The second fight I really lost, but it’s a fight that interests me. If she’s champion again, or even if she’s not champion, it’s a fight that interests me.”
Jedrzejczyk currently is on a two-fight skid after losing to 115-pound queen Rose Namajunas in back-to-back contests, and the Brazilian believes Namajunas has Jedrzejczyk’s number.
”I think that if Joanna fights Rose 10 times, she loses 10 times,” Gadelha said, “because Rose found the right spot to defeat Joanna.
”I believe I have an easier path to the belt with Rose being the champion because I’ve fought Joanna twice,” she added.
Gadelha is hoping to earn another shot at the UFC championship if victorious in Chicago, but she knows that Jessica Andrade, who handled Gadelha her third-ever MMA loss back in September, should be next against Namajunas.
”I’m at the top of the division for a long time,” Gadelha said. “I’ve lost twice to [Jedrzejczyk], my third loss was to a girl that came from two divisions above. I consider myself more technical than [Andrade], but she’s stronger than me. I think she’s the strongest girl in the division. Maybe because she came from two divisions above.
“I don’t know what she does, but I consider her strength like a male flyweight. (Jussier) ’Formiga,’ all my flyweight friends I’ve trained with my whole life, Jessica has that strength. I don’t know if it’s normal, maybe because she came from two divisions above and got too strong. If you notice, she won and lost at bantamweight, and came to strawweight destroying everybody because she’s stronger.
”The one fighter that was able to move without letting her use her strength defeated her, so I believe that’s her way to win, and that was my mistake in the fight. I let Jessica use her strength against me. She defeated me, can’t argue against that. I think she deserves to fight for the title now. I think that getting past Carla, whoever wins between her and Rose, I deserve to fight for the title.”
Will Andrade be the one to take the strawweight title to Brazil?
”I think she’s too strong for the division, but Rose moves too well,” Gadelha said. “I believe this fight can go two ways. If Jessica can get to Rose and take her down and keep her there, Jessica wins. If Rose can move like Joanna did, Rose wins. I think Rose has tools to defeat Jessica. Jessica is too strong and scares people, even those who don’t understand MMA look at her and think, ‘My God, what does this girl have?’”