SEATTLE – Jessica Andrade will be part of yet another first for the UFC when she makes her debut for the promotion on Saturday.
For the first time in the promotion’s history, two openly gay fighters will meet in the octagon when Andrade (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) takes on Liz Carmouche (8-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) on the main card of UFC on FOX 8.
But as far as Andrade is concerned, it’s pretty much business as usual in Seattle.
“Everything I do ends up reflecting on the (gay) community, but it’s not something I’ll hide,” the Brazilian told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) through a translator. “It is what it is. There’s nothing wrong with it, and I’ll keep on doing (what I’m doing).”
Carmouche made her UFC debut in February against Ronda Rousey in a women’s bantamweight title fight – and she gave Rousey the biggest scare of her career before succumbing, like everyone else, to a first-round armbar.
The story lines around Carmouche’s sexual orientation were a lot more prevalent than for Andrade, who will be fighting in the United States for the first time. In her native Brazil, she said only once was there any kind of an issue over her preferences.
“The fight community as a whole in Brazil is very supportive” Andrade said. “All the fighters respect my sexual orientation There was only one instance where I did an interview and some people in the forums said some stuff. But it wasn’t anything compared to how the whole community deals with it.”
The way most of the UFC’s fights in the women’s bantamweight division have been so far, Andrade’s personal life probably will be pretty far off the radar if the fight with Carmouche follows the trend toward “Fight of the Night” candidate.
And that seems to be how Andrade is thinking, too.
“This is a tough opponent, and a lot different than most of the girls I’ve fought before,” she said. “But I have fought some very tough girls. I just came from a fight in Russia, where I fought the best girl they have there. I’ve fought a former boxing champion. I’ve fought bigger girls, too. I’ve been training a lot, and hopefully everything goes all right as planned.”
Back-to-back choke submission wins in 2013 got Andrade her call from the UFC. She has had 11 pro fights in just 22 months as a pro, averaging a fight every eight weeks or so. And that type of schedule is what she likes best.
She said she had five fights scheduled over the next six months before the UFC gave her a call to fight Carmouche.
“It was mostly tough opponents, and it was going to add up to something bigger to make my name out of it,” she said. “It was a good deal all around.”
Now she has a chance to make her name off one opponent on a big UFC stage instead of making her name with wins in bulk.
And while she’s at it, a win also would be a little bonus for the gay community, too.
“It’s a big mark on the sport, especially in the UFC,” she said. “Getting a chance to fight on national TV is huge. It’s a huge opportunity, anyway. But we are getting a good chance to show the sports community what we’re capable of, and I’ll try to make everyone proud while I’m there.
“I hope to win, like everybody else. But most of all, I’m here to put on a show for the crowd.”
UFC on FOX 8 takes place at KeyArena in Seattle with a main card on FOX following prelims on FX and Facebook. Andrade and Carmouche fight as part of the FOX-televised main card.
For the latest on UFC on FOX 8, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.