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When Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight king Robert Whittaker is healthy, Yoel Romero will almost assuredly be his next challenger. Now, we have a good idea of who will be second in line.
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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight contenders Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres will collide this Saturday (Feb. 24, 2018) at UFC on FOX 28 inside Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Against all but Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Andrade has proven to be a terrifyingly fierce force at 115 pounds. She’s utterly dominated a trio of tough opponents, recently solidifying herself as one of the division’s absolute best with a three-round shellacking of Claudia Gadelha. Meanwhile, Torres has been ranked near the top of the division since her first bout inside the Octagon, but she hasn’t yet been able to secure her title shot. Luckily, she’s undefeated outside of a tight loss to the current champion, and those two still have a rubber match to complete at some point.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Claudia Gadelha (UFC Fight Night 117), Joanne Calderwood (UFC 205), Angela Hill (UFC Fight Night 104), Jessica Penne (UFC 199)
Key Losses: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 211), Raquel Pennington (UFC 191), Marion Reneau (UFC Fight Night 61)
Keys to Victory: Andrade is an incredible and unique combination of being the strongest woman in her division and having impeccable conditioning as well. On the feet, she’s a clubbing brawler, but it’s Andrade’s power wrestler and jiu-jitsu that separate her from the pack.
In this match, it’s important that Andrade get her wrestling going. In a strict kickboxing match, she has a fair chance, but Torres is the more experienced striker on paper. Plus, Andrade’s sole recent loss came to a fighter able to circle around her strikes, which is impossible from the bottom. To do so, Andrade needs to time her bursts well. She cannot lunge in on a whim, as that will make it to easy for Torres to cut an angle and avoid the whole exchange. Instead, Andrade needs to strike when Torres’ cage position is weak, and targeting the body would be wise as well.
If Andrade is able to connect on punches, she’s in range to shoot. Torres is not a bad wrestler or weak fighter, but she’s at a size disadvantage, and that should be the edge Andrade needs to score a takedown and put herself in great position.
Key Wins: Rose Namajunas (Invicta FC 6), Michelle Waterson (UFC 218), Paige VanZant (Invicta FC 4), Felice Herrig (Invicta FC 7)
Key Losses: Rose Namajunas (UFC on FOX 19)
Keys to Victory: Torres lives up to her “Tiny Tornado” nickname, kicking at her opponents before suddenly bursting into a flurry of strikes. In addition, her wrestling has proven a valuable weapon as well, as Torres will hide a strong double leg behind those flurries.
In this match, nonstop footwork will be key. Jedrzejczyk wrote the book on dismantling Andrade, using lateral movement to avoid the fence and make Andrade swing at air. All the while, Jedrzejczyk stabbed at Andrade with kicks and body shots to slow her down. On paper, Torres has good footwork and range strikes. She’s not an easy fighter to hold down. It’s not her natural style, but Torres has the tools to fight the outside game and pick Andrade apart.
Torres needs to commit to the gameplan, but doing so gives her a real chance at scoring a major upset and earning a title shot.
Bottom Line: The winner will receive a title shot.
Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will rematch in the beginning of April, which perfectly sets up the winner of this bout for a summer title shot. Regardless of which woman is champion, it’s an intriguing match up. For Andrade, she’ll have fully earned her rematch with Jedrzejczyk, and she’s a nightmare match up for Namajunas. In Torres’ case, she has a rubber match to settle with “Thug Rose” and has never even faced Jedrzejczyk.
Isn’t it nice when things work out simply?
The loser remains in the title mix, but this is nearly a guaranteed title eliminator. Title shots are never easy to come by, and losing out on a clear one here is a definite setback.
At UFC on FOX 28, Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres will go to war in the co-main event. Which fighter will secure a title shot?