Jessica Andrade is one strong woman.
Just ask her former UFC strawweight opponent Claudia Gadelha.
The pair met inside the Octagon this past September in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 117. Andrade, who came into the fight as an underdog, won the bout via lopsided unanimous decision.
Gadelha was riding high off back-to-back wins over fellow 115 pounders Cortney Casey and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, the latter being a first-round submission victory via rear-naked choke.
Andrade had just lost to then-UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. After failing in her opportunity to capture UFC gold, she returned with a strong showing over her fellow Brazilian Gadelha. Andrade is recognized as one of the most physically gifted athletes the women’s strawweight division has ever seen, and her performance against Gadelha showcased that beautifully.
In an interview this past January, Andrade noted that her strength likely comes from her childhood days of working on her family’s farm:
“I have a brother, but my father always asked me first when he needed help to carry things, because I was stronger than my brother and could handle more (weight),” Andrade said.
“When I wasn’t at school, I was at the farm. I think this strength of mine came from the farm. Spending my childhood carrying hampers to throw on the fork lifts, to mow corn, carrying weight around. I think the strength I have today is thanks to all this work from when I was a kid.”
Gadelha is currently gearing up for her next Octagon appearance against former division champion Carla Esparza. They will meet on the FS1 preliminary card of the UFC 225 pay-per-view (PPV) from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on June 9th.
Speaking with media this week in Las Vegas, Gadelha reminisced about her fight with Andrade. She explained how surprised she was with Andrade’s strength, going as far as comparing her to a 125-pound male competitor (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“I was very surprised with her strength,” Gadelha said. “I compare her to a (125-pound) guy when it comes to strength and power. And I never felt that before, so I was very surprised. I think that I am way better than her, technically, but she’s just so much stronger, and that’s what made her win the fight.”