Dubai: Jessica Andrade is set to fight Katlyn Chookagian at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning, but the feisty Brazilian is already looking ahead to her next fight and a shot at the title.
After two consecutive losses in the strawweight division, Andrade has moved up to the UFC women’s flyweight division where she intends to use Chookagian as a stepping stone en route to a much sought after fight against 125-pound champ Valentina Shevchenko.
The Russian who resides at the top of the women’s division has been on her radar for a long time and Andrade believes that once she gets Chookagian out of the ways she can have her dream fight.
“I wanted to fight Valentina for the belt in her division. But now, moving up, I’m definitely working up and I think this fight puts me right there in a good spot for that argument,” she said during Wednesday’s UFC Fight Island 6 media day.
“She is extraordinary. She’s beyond anyone else, and I think she’s better than any girl right there, and she’s the girl to beat right now. It used to be Ronda, and now it’s Valentina. That’s the girl to beat in the UFC.”
But prior to that she needs to get past a super-hungry and super skilled Chookagian (14-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) who is fighting at her natural weight and has a significant physical advantage over the smaller, if muscular, Andrade.
The Brazilian lost her title to China’s Zhang Weili last year and then suffered defeat against arch-rival Rose Namajunas in a closely contested rematch.
“It was supposed to be Jessica Eye. She had to have surgery, but I got Katlyn, which is great. I didn’t expect anything less,” she said of Sunday’s fight.
“She’s got a good ground game. Even though she’s not that powerful, she’s always (going). She’s always landing good shots. I think the difference is going to be shortening the range and taking her down and working her on the ground.”
Andrade is 4/5 favourite with Chookagian the narrow 11/8 outsider.