Jessica Andrade had the most important fight of her strawweight young career Saturday night in Dallas. The Brazilian, who has been competing in the UFC since 2013, was featured in the co-main event of UFC 211 opposite UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Though Andrade put up a memorable performance in her first UFC title fight, it may be something that she did after that fight that remains in memory long after UFC 211.
Andrade's opponent (who is nicknamed Joanna Champion) won the UFC strawweight (115 pounds) belt back in 2015. Since then the Polish former multi-world champion muay thai boxer has distinguished herself as one of the most feared fighters on the planet. Andrade, 25, is known for her relentless and powerful brawling style, was the underdog in the match-up
The five-round fight went the distance with Andrade coming off second best to Jędrzejczyk, who notched her fifth successful title defense. The champion was able to pick Andrade apart from range during the entire affair, badly bruising the Brazilian's legs with kicks and bloodying her nose with jabs. However, despite being out-struck by the champ, Andrade never backed down, earning the praise of analysts and fans alike.
As is traditional in championship fights, both the winner and loser is granted an in-cage interview after the contest. This night, when UFC color-commentator Joe Rogan presented Andrade with the microphone she had something special to say.
In Brazilian, Andrade spoke about the fight, revealing her respect for Jędrzejczyk's dominance and regrets over her own performance. Though, once that was out the way, she looked to the crowd and asked her girlfriend to marry her.
“Today, I’d like to make a special request to my girlfriend, Fernanda, who is here,” said Andrade through translation. “I want to ask her in marriage.”
Rogan, the crowd, and much of the TV audience didn't realize what had happened until the on-site translator cleared things up. After a somewhat awkward exchange, Rogan ascertained that Andrade's girlfriend had given a thumbs up and thus accepted the proposal.
The in-cage proposal was a first for the UFC (not just because it was between two women). As well as planning for a wedding, Andrade will now lick her wounds and wait for her next opponent. Her gutsy performance versus the champion has left many to believe that it won't be long until the two meet again.
On the same day Andrade asked her girlfriend to marry her, two other women in the UFC got engaged to each other. Strawweight Tecia Torres and bantamweight (135 pounds) Raquel Pennington announced on Twitter that, after moving in together, Pennington had popped the question.
Both Torres and Pennington are highly ranked fighters in their divisions. Pennington is ranked fourth and is a likely contender to face incumbent champion Amanda Nunes sometime this year. Nunes is also openly gay, and in a relationship with UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff (who competes in Torres and Andrade's division).
With Andrade, Torres, and Pennington all getting a ring — and the UFC creating more divisions for female fighters — it might not be long until one of these women gets a gold UFC belt to go with it.