Who is Jessica Andrade?
The birthday girl, Jessica Andrade was born 27 years ago today (25th September 1991) and is one of the hottest prospects currently competing in UFC.
But what makes this athlete so special? And why is she one to watch?
The Brazilian joined the MMA powerhouse in the summer of 2013, where she was a late substitute for Miesha Tate to face the dangerous Liz Carmouche. The bout was significant in that it was the first time that two openly homosexual fighters competed against one another.
Andrade came up short against the veteran Carmouche but rebounded well to win her next three fights for the promotion.
In a surprise, Andrade lost to the much older, Marion Reneau in the first round at UFC Fight Night 61, as she was submitted to the far more inexperienced fighter.
After more inconsistency in her next couple of bouts, Andrade dropped down in weight from Bantamweight to Strawweight and her UFC career finally started to click in 2016, three years after her debut.
As one of the more physically imposing women in the division, Andrade put her aggressive brawling style to maximum effect against Jessica Penne knocking her out mid-way through the second round.
Belying her petite five feet two-inch frame, Andrade possesses incredible strength, evidenced in her subsequent fight versus Joanne Calderwood at UFC 203 in September 2016.
Andrade maneuvered Calderwood into position to sink in a tight guillotine choke which earned her "performance of the night" honors.
In February 2017, Andrade continued to move up the Strawweight ladder, defeating Angela Hill in an excellent back and forth match-up which demonstrated that despite her overwhelming strength and muscle, she also has impressive cardiovascular conditioning, making her a match for any fighter in the division.
Her impressive performances earned her an opportunity at Strawweight Champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 211 on May 13, 2017.
The bout was significant in that the Champion unleashed a record amount of significant strikes in the entire history of UFC (225, across the five-round fight).
It was therefore inevitable that Jedrzejczyk would win the decision. She did, retaining the title.
After her run of three consecutive wins was interrupted by the Pole, Andrade fought her way back into the win column with a victory over fellow Brazilian, Claudia Gadelha.
Andrade followed that win up with a further victory over Tecia Torres on February 24, 2018.
Andrade's most recent fight at UFC 228, two weeks ago saw the Strawweight earn her way back into title contention with a comprehensive, heavy hitting win over Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
Andrade believes she is next in line. She has openly spoken of her wish to challenge Strawweight Champion, Rose Namajunas and is eyeing a bout with the Champion at UFC 232 on December 29, 2018.
If that match comes to pass, who can bet against Andrade now? The 27-year-old is now at her peak and is ready to fulfill her dream of becoming UFC Strawweight Champion.