The UFC returns to Asia for only the second time in 2017 as UFC Fight Night 117 rolls into Saitama, Japan this weekend.
There appears to be a Samba theme developing with UFC visits to the Orient. Having witnessed Rafael dos Anjos and Bethe Correia perform at UFC Singapore back in June, we now look forward to this weekend where we have Claudia Gadelha take on Jessica Andrade.
Here is a look ahead as to why this All-Brazilian co-main event is a must watch.
5. Andrade’s Aggressive Fighting Style
If you have watched Jessica Andrade before, then you will know she never stops walking her opponent down. She believes in her power and will sacrifice sustaining damage to land that one power shot. Understandably, this makes for a very entertaining fighting style.
Even in her last fight against Joanna Jędrzejczyk, the most effective and technical striker in the division, Andrade was relentless coming forward. She was technically outclassed but never stopped pressurising her opponent. She has one of the most exciting styles which make for thrilling fights.
4. Claudia Gadelha’s Rounded Skill Set
The great thing about watching Gadelha fight is that she has so many tools at her disposal. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt can stand and outland her opponent or just as easily take it to the mat, where she is so effective at getting the submission.
She is a very accomplished grappler and can also inflict damage in the clinch, never afraid to let her elbows and knees go. Her only professional losses have come at the hands of Jędrzejczyk, and Gadelha has all the potential to be a box office star.
3. Style Match-Up
The aforementioned style of both contenders makes for an intriguing bout. Andrade will almost certainly try to keep the fight standing and exchanging strikes. She will constantly rush her opponent and try to pressure Claudia into making a mistake. It will be very interesting to see if Claudia tries to match Andrade with her stand up game or if she will attempt to take the fight to the floor.
Any attempts by Claudia to go for a takedown will have to be timed to perfection as a wild counter by Andrade could prove very dangerous. On top of this, both fighters are durable and can sustain damage. Neither Andrade or Claudia have suffered a stoppage in the strawweight division so expect this fight to go the distance.
2. Major Implications On The Strawweight Division
The outcome of this fight will have major implications on the division. The same cannot be said for any other fight on the card. Claudinha is currently the number one ranked contender for the strawweight title while Andrade is ranked number four. Although Claudia has previously been defeated by the current champion twice, a victory here and it will be difficult to look past a trilogy fight. It must be noted that both defeats came by decision, one of which was a close split decision.
Meanwhile, Andrade is on the back of a defeat to Jędrzejczyk so even a victory on Saturday night would be unlikely to propel her to the top of the queue. It would still be a bold statement of intent to the whole division. Jędrzejczyk will defend her belt at UFC 217 against Rose Namajunas. The above is based on a successful title defence. If Namajunas were to wrestle the belt from Jędrzejczyk, then the winner of Saturday night’s co-main event will certainly feel entitled to an immediate title shot.
1. National Rivalry
With both fighters hailing from Brazil, there will of course be national pride at stake on Saturday. One might have expected both fighters to play this down in the build-up and concentrate on the fight. This has not been the case. The Brazilian fans are notoriously passionate and both fighters will look to get the support of their people. First blood has gone to Andrade who called out the loyalty of her counterpart.
Speaking to Bloody Elbow, Andrade said:
“Since she left Brazil and she went to a US based camp with US coaches and training partners, she left us and everybody back home so it’s not as if she’s fighting for Brazil.”
In what is already an unmissable event due to the technical skills of both ladies, these latest comments bring a personal edge to the fight. Expect to hear the infamous “Uh Vai Morrer” (You’re Gonna Die) chant ring across the Saitama Super Area. Although it remains to be seen as to which fighter it will be directed at.