Jessica Andrade came up short in her attempt to defend the UFC strawweight championship against Weili Zhang at UFC Shenzhen, losing in just 42 seconds in China on Saturday.
Back to Rio de Janeiro after a long flight from China, PRVT head coach Gilliard Parana told MMA Fighting that the original gameplan for Zhang was to start off with jabs and leg kicks, but Andrade decided to go with her usual style instead.
“She was in this euphoria of trying to knock that girl out,” Parana said, “A lot of people saying she got lucky against Rose (Namajunas) and blah blah blah, and I think that messed with her head a little bit and she didn’t follow the gameplan. That has worked many times before and could work against Weili Zhang as well, but standing and trading is like a lottery, one hand can land and you go down.”
“It happens,” he added. “We believe a lot in Jessica’s chin and thought that wouldn’t happen, but we saw that even her can go down with a good hand that lands.”
A right punch to the chin rocked Andrade early, and Zhang followed with vicious elbows and knees in the clinch. For Parana, some of those elbows could have hit the back of his protégé’s head.
“I just got home so I haven’t watched the fight again yet,” Parana said, “But many people texted me right after saying that three or four elbows hit the back of her head. She ate that first punch that rocked her and she decided to grab (Zhang) to rest, but then she hit those elbows to the back of the head.
“If you train you know that two or three strikes to the back of the head get you really hurt. I’m not saying that she wouldn’t have lost if not for those elbows, but we don’t know what would have happened.”
Moments after losing the title, Andrade said she would be open to fighting Zhang again if that’s what the new champion and the UFC wanted, but Parana doesn’t think that even controversial strikes would be enough to warrant her an immediate match after losing in just 42 seconds.
For Parana, an ideal return would be a strawweight bout with Nina Ansaroff in December. The American Top Team fighter was riding a four-fight winning streak over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, Angela Hill, Randa Markos and Claudia Gadelha before losing to Tatiana Suarez in June.
“Nina would be a good option if she wants to fight in December,” Parana said. “I don’t know if Nina Ansaroff will continue fighting, but I think she’s the only one in the top 10 that doesn’t have a fight booked, so that’s an idea.”
“Jessica will be back,” he continued. “This is a sport, we have to understand that. Jessica is still one of the best in the division, if not the best, when she’s focused. Having the title if tough, you lose focus, you have that pressure and have to prove yourself all the time.”