Tecia Torres vs. Jessica Andrade co-headlines UFC on FOX 28 this February 24, 2018 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, U.S.
One sentence summary:
David: A strawweight battle of heavyweight elements
Phil: The Tiny Tornado takes on the tank
Record: Tecia Torres 10-1 | Jessica Andrade 17-6
Odds: Tecia Torres +265 | Jessica Andrade -295
History / Introduction to Both Fighters
Phil: Andrade failed against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but despite being technically outclassed she showed no quit, and kept ploughing forward till the end. I think she won a few fans for how purely game she was, and she turned around afterwards with one of the best possible ways of righting the ship: by absolutely crushing the consensus #2 strawweight in the division over the final 10 minutes. She’s a steamroller.
David: Andrade is like a striking version of Sean Sherk—all momentum and volition. Her skills are somewhat raw and limited, but she won’t budget, and remains tough as nails wrapped in obsidian. It’ll be interesting to see (like Sherk) if her unique style for the division can remain consistent as fighters evolve and become more dynamic. Some fighters don’t need to evolve in order to be efficient though. Torres is a good test for this.
Phil: Torres is maybe the most consistently skilled, top-end fighter that we’ve never previewed together before. I’m struggling to think of someone in any of the divisions who has remained so planted in prelim spots despite being a clear top 10 talent. In her professional career she has one (extremely debatable) loss to Rose Namajunas, and has rolled off three straight since then. There are probably some lightweights and featherweights that are more skilled, but in terms of relative skill to the division and general under-the-radarness, she’s fairly unique.
David: Torres has always been an almost-elite fighter. She’s intelligent, measured, active, quick, and technical. I agree about the Namajunas fight and would probably argue the same against Carla Esparza on the show. She hasn’t had the strength of competition deserving of her skillset but this is a nice correction to that issue.
What’s at stake?
Phil: This should be a title eliminator, but I’m not sure what’s going on with Jedrzejczyk. She’s probably getting another crack at Rose, but it’s been surprisingly quiet on the front. Both fighters should be able to bounce back ably from a loss, though. They have a tightly-knitted technical game and a completely overwhelming physical presence respectively which should put them right back into positions like this.
David: I wouldn’t mind seeing one of these two get a shot at Namajunas, but Andrade would be a legitimate threat to Namajunas (stylistically). The UFC probably wants Jedrzejczyk at the top again, so this is one of the those rare moments where no one is being stiffed on a title shot, and I can just enjoy whatever happens.
Where do they want it?
Phil: Andrade’s game is a marvel of subtlety and elegance. OK, no it isn’t. The female equivalent of John Lineker, Andrade plods inexorably forwards behind winging hooks to the head and body. Her defense isn’t anything to write home about, but her chin is so rock-solid that it hasn’t been much of an issue. She’s a powerful if somewhat unstructured wrestler, who favours crude high-crotch lifts. On the ground it’s more bludgeoning head and body combinations and choke submissions. The attribute that impresses me the most is her cardio. She’s a massive strawweight, yet had one of her best rounds in the fifth against Jedrzejczyk after walking through punches and kicks for 20 minutes.
David: Andrade inches forward like a heavy guitar riff smashing your senses inside the mosh pit. She wings each punch to crush bones and crack skulls. It’s downright barbaric. And fun. Unlike most plodders with such a throwback style, her activity doesn’t wane. Even Joanna’s combinations, and searing strikes couldn’t keep her from coming forward with a puncher’s malice. The problem with her style is that any opponent with quality movement can tiptoe around her offense. Andrade is versatile enough to mix it up with high impact slams and keep the bout from becoming tactically wide. But against Torres, movement will definitely be a factor.
Phil: Torres is an odd and (for me at least) appealing mixture of Frankie Edgar and Lyoto Machida. Her most effective approach is when she is able to circle, and attack with rushing blitzes, which she does an excellent job of punctuating with round and side kicks. She’s a surprisingly effective offensive wrestler from the clinch and counter double legs, and her scrambling has improved by leaps and bounds: check the evolution from getting decisioned by Randa Markos to finishing Juliana Lima. Her punching power and ability to sit down on her punches has also improved dramatically in recent outings: she’s not putting people away with punches, but they are visibly hurting.
Her primary issue in this fight is that her style is so predicated on in-out movement, and Andrade doesn’t really allow for anything but “out”. How to set up will be a key question. Torres doesn’t have anything like the frame of Jedrzejczyk, so every time she throws she’ll be in the danger zone.
David: I always think of Torres like a fixed Tyson Griffin—in his brief prime, granted. She chains technical offense with spatial awareness and spirited versatility. The biggest change in her game has been her striking. Before she would dart in with combinations that seemed geared towards point aggregation. You mentioned Machida, which is interesting because stylistically they’re nothing alike but there’s the same philosophical get in-get out idea. Where Machida relies on distance management, Torres wades right into the storm, throwing straight rights and hooks in proximity for pressure only to manage back from the outside. She’s still similar, but where before she was all arm and no torque from the hip, now she’s got the torque (or at least more). She’s also grown more comfortable staying active but alert about where to pick her spots.
Insight from past fights?
David: Torres is a great scrambler, but her ability to avoid the ground altogether should be an asset and it kind of isn’t. Andrade will win with her punches and forward momentum, but in the event of a decision, those takedowns will be the difference in the eyes of the judges and Torres needs to be able to stop them because her only path to victory is winning on the scorecards with every exchange.
Phil: Torres has given up quite a few takedowns of late. Michelle Waterson? Bec Rawlings? While her scrambling and physical strength is excellent, so is Claudia Gadelha’s. She can’t let Andrade set up shop on top.
David: You mentioned height, but I think the real factor is conditioning. Both are well-conditioned, but if the bout’s a firefight, Andrade has the advantage IMO.
Phil: I’m interested to see how Andrade fights someone shorter than her. She’s always been able to bull in underneath strikes and land to the head and body, even at 155. In a fight between two women who are used to being “the short fighter”, there may be a comfort factor for Torres.
David: I think Torres has a real shot. Mainly because Andrade doesn’t have a counter fighter’s arsenal. She can swing back in the exchanges, but if Torres storms those punch entries, I can see the fight getting away from her. The problem is, this would bank of better, perhaps quicker movement from Torres on the reset. So I’ve gotta go with the obvious pick. Jessica Andrade by Decision.
Phil: I think this fight is the real main event. Both have proven themselves to be in the elite of this division, and it’s one of the best title eliminator-type fights you can make at the moment. However much I like Torres and would like to see her do well, it seems like a tough style matchup. How does she keep Andrade off her? Does she kick? Believe in her counterpunching? Gadelha’s plan of counter takedowns ended up being disastrous. Her porous TDD is also a very live concern. Jessica Andrade by unanimous decision.
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