Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) strawweight contenders Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Andrade collided last night (Sept. 22, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 117 inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Earning a third title shot against the only fighter to ever beat you — let alone twice — is a difficult task. Luckily, Gadelha was making solid progress towards that third shot by taking out top contenders, as she looked to extend her win streak to three last night.
Standing opposite her was “Bate Estaca,” another woman whose only strawweight defeat came to current divisional queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The young Brazilian was hoping to jump right back into the title mix, and an upset win over Gadelha would be an excellent feather in her cap.
Gadelha struck first, working heavy counter shots as her opponent pushed forward. In addition to her length advantage, Gadelha looked faster, scoring with her cross over and over. Andrade tried to flurry after eating shots, but nothing came from it.
By the halfway point in the first round, Andrade was cut up.
Andrade switched things up with a double leg that was defended, but Gadelha ended up on her back chasing the guillotine. From half guard, Andrade went to work, evening up the round and landing some heavy shots.
Andrade landed until the end of the round, but it probably wasn’t enough to overcome the early beating.
Gadelha opened the second round with a crisp right hand, and the two scrambled on the mat without a real winner. When Gadelha shot again, Andrade snapped her opponent’s head down and threw her to the mat, taking top position once again. By the time she worked back to her feet, Gadelha was split open just like her opponent.
Back on the feet, the two brawled. Both landed for a moment, but Gadelha was fading fast, while Andrade just kept pressuring with heavy combinations. Before long, Gadelha was gasping for breath, while Andrade began to tee off.
Gadelha never stopped fighting, but she was on the wrong end of an ass-beating for much of the round.
The fight moved into the clinch early in the third, where Andrade soon landed a big slam takedown. Andrade weighed heavily on her opponent, attacking the body with constant punches. From top position, Andrade never stopped working, just whacking Gadelha constantly. Gadelha looked weary and miserable, as she merely covered up and defended for much of the round.
It was a dominant finish to what turned out to be a dominant unanimous decision win for Andrade.
Andrade’s conditioning since moving to 115 pounds has been incredible. She never slows down, throwing punches and wrestling at a ridiculous pace. After three rounds of combat, her opponent was slowing down, while Andrade was just picking up the pace.
Andrade’s physicality is always a big factor, but it was never more obvious than in this bout. Gadelha is accustomed to out-wrestling and muscling her opponent around, but the exact opposite happened last night. Andrade manhandled her opponent, landing big slams and turning her foe’s takedown attempts into her own offense.
It was a brilliant performance, and Andrade is probably one more victory away from the strap.
For three minutes, Gadelha was on fire. Her striking had never looked better, as she maintained range and stabbed at her opponent with sharp counter punching. Unfortunately, just like in her losses to Jedrzejczyk, Gadelha could not match her opponent’s pace and fell behind.
The real critical mistake Gadelha made was choosing to wrestle and grapple. She exhausted herself trying to take Andrade down, which was unnecessary considering how well the kickboxing had been going early on. Similarly, she jumped on a guillotine choke that wasn’t there, and that will burn the arms out quickly.
Gadelha is still a top fighter, but this devastating loss sends her back to the drawing board.
Last night, Jessica Andrade overwhelmed her opponent in the best showing of her career. Who should Andrade face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 117 “Saint Preux vs. Okami” results and play-by-play, click HERE!