NEW YORK – Jessica Andrade expects to share the octagon with a few familiar opponents in 2024.
Former UFC strawweight champion Andrade (25-12 MMA, 16-10 UFC) capped off a busy, yet tumultuous 2023 with a return to the win column. At UFC 295, Andrade viciously stopped Mackenzie Dern (13-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) with strikes in the second round to pick up her second win of the year, while also ending a three-fight skid.
In her personal life, Andrade has been dealing with a divorce that has caused financial strain. It is also the reason she made five walks to the UFC’s octagon this year.
In January, she won a unanimous decision against Lauren Murphy, but then lost her next three to Erin Blanchfield, Yan Xiaonan and Tatiana Suarez. However, she will enter 2024 on a high note after UFC 295, ready to forge a path back to the title, and expects to have the opportunity to avenge previous losses.
“The rematches are what will take me through the path of being champion again,” Andrade told reporters through an interpreter during a post-fight news conference. “I know that in order to actually be a champion, to be able to fight for the belt toward the end of the year next year, I’m going to have to have some rematches and beat some girls that beat me. I do feel that’s going to be the way.”
Since winning the strawweight title by defeating Rose Namajunas in 2019, Andrade has struggled, putting together a record of 5-6 as she bounced between the 115 and 125-pound divisions. One of the more frustrating results during that stretch for Andrade was her first attempt to defend the title, which resulted in a 42-second loss to Zhang Weili.
“I think obviously having the opportunity to fight Weili because that was kind of a quick fight, it was kind of taken quickly, so I think I deserve another chance,” Andrade said. “It would be really cool if Joanna (Jedrzejczyk) comes back. That would be really interesting.”
Andrade has consistently fought the best competition available, and if she is to fight for the title again, it is very likely that she will have to run it back with a few names that put losses on her record. Regardless of who may be on her path in 2024, she hopes it includes a booking at the promotion’s upcoming milestone pay-per-view.
“Something that I really want for next year is to actually be able to fight on UFC 300,” Andrade said. “It’s something that’s going to be historic, and I would love to be a part of it.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.