UFC newcomer Jessica Andrade‘s bright smile hides a fierce martial arts competitor.
The only grin bigger than hers during an open workout in support of UFC on FOX 8 belonged to her opponent, recent bantamweight title challenger Liz Carmouche.
But Andrade’s nickname is also “Bate Estaca,” which in Portuguese means “Pile Driver.” It’s an illegal move in MMA, and one that immediately prompts howls for point deductions.
Andrade, a blue belt in jiu-jitsu who lives in the city of Niteroi in the state of Rio de Janeiro, earned it during a grappling competition in which she faced a larger opponent. During their match, she was caught in an armbar, and in a panic, picked up the opponent and slammed her on her head.
She doesn’t believe in cheating, of course, but she’s kept the name throughout her 11-fight career because it just might serve a purpose in the UFC.
“I think it’s a cool nickname if it puts fear in the hearts of my opponents,” Andrade told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Andrade (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Carmouche (8-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) open the main card of UFC on FOX 8, which takes place Saturday at Seattle’s KeyArena and airs live on FOX. Andrade steps up on short notice as a replacement for ex-Strikeforce champ Miesha Tate, who was tapped to coach “The Ultimate Fighter 18? and fight champ Ronda Rousey when title challenger Cat Zingano was injured.
The 5-foot-3 Andrade walked away from five scheduled fights in six months to accept the bout with Carmouche, who returns to the octagon after a submission loss to Rousey in February.
The opponents share a background in jiu-jitsu, though Andrade also has cut her teeth against bigger and more seasoned strikers recently in her 11-fight career.
“I already fought Duda Yankovich, a boxing champion, and she was a lot bigger,” said Andrade. “I submitted her and won the fight. Against Liz, what’s going to matter is who wants it the most, (and) who has the most heart.”
Andrade,who’s won her past two fights, sees similarities in their mentalities when they step in the cage.
“She is as brutal as I am, both standing and on the ground,” said Andrade of Carmouche, who is a former Marine. “I know it’s going to be a great fight. And I’m going there to bring home the win. I’m sure she’ll be trying to do the same.”
Andrade said her family inspires her to find success in MMA. Initially, she said her mother was against her competing in the sport, but was convinced when she performed.
“Yes, both my father and mother support me a lot,” she said. “My mother was reluctant at first. She used to think the sport was too violent. But then she realized that it was both my talent and my dream, and that I would be able to help her out.
“Now, every time I felt like quitting, she’s been there to keep me focused, to push me forward.”
But it’s also her coaches, who saw her ferocious spirit on the mats, that also keep her sharp for what’s undoubtedly the biggest opportunity of her professional career.
“I just want to point out that an athlete is nothing without his or her coaching staff,” Andrade said. “My coaches say to give three kicks and a punch – that’s exactly what I’ll do. I have total trust in them.”
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