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Growing at all costs: Jessica Andrade’s drive for success

Dan Tom



Post UFC 207, the streets of Las Vegas still show signs of the storm as most businesses begin to open back up and most people are just now recovering from a crazy New Years weekend. However, one key player from last weekend’s fight festivities remains in Las Vegas, working away as if no event ever happened.

That is because no event ever did happen for one Jessica Andrade. Originally slated to face Maryna Moroz, Andrade would find herself having to accept a replacement opponent just 3-weeks out from her scheduled bout. Having no problem in facing the offered fighter in Angela Hill, Andrade would once again find herself opponent-less just one-week later due to a USADA testing pool technicality. With the UFC seemingly having no luck in scrambling to find an opponent for Jessica, the Brazilian prospect was officially removed from the card just 9-days out. Although that sympathetic story makes for a playable violin, Andrade prefers playing on a punching bag as she has seemingly parlayed this experience into a positive.

“It is unfortunate that the fight got canceled–especially in the way that it was, but we are just trying to make the most out of it since we’re already here in Vegas. Luckily, Tiago has a lot of good contacts and my coach is very open to letting us try different things and trying to work with different people to try and learn new stuff. We were able to work a lot with Angelo, work on the boxing, go to Drysdale’s and work on the grappling, so overall I am 100% sure that I am going out of Vegas a better fighter that I am coming in.”

When asking Andrade about expanding on her experiences here in Las Vegas, and how it related to her current run for the title, the Brazilian contender gave an interesting answer that certainly made it clear as to where she sees her future heading.

“For sure, all the fans can expect a better Jessica coming out of this and one of the best things that we already got to do was we got a chance to train with a lot of people that had trained with Joanna before, so a lot of people had very good insight on many things regarding her and I think that overall, I am coming out of Vegas with a much better chance of putting on a fight and taking the belt back to Brazil whenever that fight happens.”

Considering the trend of many Brazilians that have come before Jessica, I was curious if she had any intentions of making more permanent visits to the United States whether they be residential or just for training camp purposes.

“Eventually, I think that is something that we could do, even (my)coach wants to come up here. The thing is, in Brazil, the training is not as technical on a lot of aspects. Back home, there is a lot of ‘face punching’ you know? A lot of being tough, but by learning the small technical details, it makes a lot of differences and this is something that we have here with Angelo and with Drysdale on both sides of the spectrum. Eventually, I think this could be the right move. Before, I was not as ready emotionally I think, but now I am in a better place and I think that I am able to learn and hold information better. If this was a year ago, maybe they would show me these things and I pretty much would not get it. I might lose most of the information that I got and would not be able to put it into practice. But now, after earning my purple belt, I think I am more mature and can make the most out of this opportunity.”

I found this answer from Andrade refreshing, as I could clearly see the comradery and closeness she had with her head coach Gilliard Parana and Manager, Tiago Okamura. To me, they represented a team that was truly symbiotic in the way in which they collectively thought to achieve goals without ego or issue. Despite the 10 victores that Jessica has earned under Gilliard’s PRVT Team, Parana has no issues in loosening leashes and allowing for growth as they all seem to have had high praise for the work of renown striking coach, Angelo Reyes.

“It was really nice that coach Angelo validated a lot of the work that we do in Brazil. The good thing is that he has a good eye on how to improve on the work that we do. He is not trying to change anything that I do, he is not trying to put a new game in my head, but he is trying to give me things that would help me become a better fighter. He showed us a lot of techniques, has a good eye for finding holes in our game, and he was able to point out a lot of details that we knew were a problem, but could not point out exactly why. That, I think is the major thing that we are taking from this time with Angelo–his analysis of the game and the way he is able to find things that can make us go around the problems is very good, it is not something we would find in Brazil.”

With tactical training accounted for, the looming question still remained as I asked Andrade if the UFC had helped compensate her financially through this time or if they were at least able to reach out with possible re-bookings.

“Right now, we are waiting for one more fight. The UFC has mentioned the title fight as something within our reach, though there weren’t any talks of going straight to the title fight. But, to be honest, we are in our second fight in this division and I think that there is a lot of work to be done still. We are not taking this lightly, you know? If we are gonna go for the title, we are gonna go to get the belt. And for that, we need to have enough money to put into camp. We need to do one more fight and make sure that we are capitalizing to a point to where we can do a proper investment and make this the best camp that I can because I am not going there just to be another title defense for Joanna, we’re going there to take the belt.”

With no real clear answers, much less confirmations, I asked Andrade what her ideal matchup would be if she could call her shot. Wasting little time in naming a fighter, Jessica would reveal some potential issues she had with a former champion.

“The ideal scenario would have been to have fought on 207 against Angela and then we could be focused right now with money in the bank, ready to spend it so that we have the best camp possible. But since that did not happen, right now we are just waiting. The UFC has not given us an official date or an official opponent, but we are hoping to fight Angela in January or February. We could have taken on Carla Esparza, Carla is someone we have been trying to fight with since early on. That was supposed to be our first fight at strawweight, but for whatever reason, she ended taking a fight with Juliana Lima and I had to fight Penne. That is a fight that is stuck in our throats a little bit, but we really want to do it and it would be a good fight to validate my run for the title. For me to go and beat number three, that would make a lot of sense in the division, but I guess that is not in her plans. She apparently has another fight lined up, but we will see against who because let’s be honest, it has been 21-months since Carla has fought anyone that was highly ranked and now I am hoping she fights someone in the Top-5 to validate her position in the rankings.”

Potential shade aside, Andrade showed little distraction as she seemed more than focused on the bigger picture at play.

“The main thing is that I don’t want anyone to look at me and say that I skipped ahead of the line, so I want to make sure that we did our work in the division. Although I am coming into my 10th-fight in the UFC, I only fought two at strawweight so I want to make sure that I beat up everyone that I have to beat up, get my right place in the rankings, and get the title fight when it is the real time.”

And although the real time for a title shot can be hard to predict in this day in age, I do feel that the strawweight division has itself a real contender it can get excited about as I hope Jessica Andrade gets an opportunity to shine sooner rather than later.

Jessica Andrade interview audio here:

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UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event



Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.

GDANSK, POLAND – OCTOBER 21: (R-L) Darren Till of England punches Donald Cerrone in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Ergo Arena on October 21, 2017 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.

He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.

In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.

UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.

The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.

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Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation



Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.

Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.

Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.

From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.

The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
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Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198



Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.

Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).

Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.

In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.

The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.

Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.

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