UFC on Fox 8 newcomer Jessica Andrade has answered a lot of questions leading into her fight this weekend against Liz Carmouche, probably more than she's ever responded to before.
First, there's the added media attention that goes along with just fighting in the UFC. It's the biggest MMA organization in the world, so naturally there are going to be more interviews and a brighter spotlight on any athlete competing there.
The pressure ratcheted up on Andrade this week when reporters started asking about her sexual orientation, because she's openly stated in the past that she's gay.
It's an intriguing storyline because Andrade faces Carmouche, who is also an openly gay fighter, and this is the first time in MMA history that it has happened.
Still, Andrade at just 21 years of age is more focused on the fight and not so much the social issues that surround her UFC debut. This is a dream come true for Andrade, so she's not going to waste much time basking in the attention of the moment.
She's here to fight and win on Saturday night.
"I was extremely happy with the opportunity," Andrade told Bleacher Report. "All the hard work my entire team did had a good result. It will be the biggest chance I had in my career and I will work very hard to make the most of it."
There is an unknown factor at work for Andrade because she is so young and hasn't fought on any major cards in the United States. On the flipside, Carmouche has oodles of video to carve through to try and find tendencies or weaknesses, and Andrade has been studying plenty since she landed this fight a few weeks ago.
Andrade talked about her preparation:
"Before we had some knowledge of her because of her bouts in Strikeforce and later on with Ronda (Rousey) in the UFC. Now we have had some time to watch her more carefully and we are more aware of what she brings to the table and what we can do against her. But in the end the main thing we got from all the studying is that both our styles compliment each other in a way that will make for a great fight for the fans."
Andrade has the element of surprise on her side and she's also coming into the fight as a very heavy underdog. Despite the fact that on paper, she has the same experience inside the cage as Carmouche, the odds makers are giving her very little chance against the former title contender.
Andrade is fine with that scenario because it just makes the taste of victory that much sweeter.
"It's the best motivator one can have," Andrade said. "I have been on this side of the equation many times. I can't really think of many times where I wasn't the underdog and so far that has worked out pretty well for me."
While Andrade is still a little raw in her skill set development, she isn't as young in the MMA game as her age may denote. She grew up in the MMA gyms of Brazil, which can turn any fighter from putty into leather in just a matter of months.
Andrade has developed a nasty guillotine choke that she's used to put away four opponents out of her nine wins, and she's got power in both hands as evidenced by three more wins on her record by TKO.
So whether she's an underdog or a favorite, cheered by the crowd or an unknown, Andrade knows was she has to do to get the job done against Carmouche.
"I believe that although she is very strong, I'm also surprisingly strong for my size," Andrade said. "Like her I can take a punch pretty well so in the end what might make a difference is my cardio. It's hard to predict as it's a tough fight, but I see myself beating her by TKO."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!