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Erin Blanchfield had no hesitation fighting Jessica Andrade on short notice: ‘I’m down to fight whoever’

UFC 281 Ceremonial Weigh-in Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Erin Blanchfield didn’t blink when she got the call that Taila Santos was out of the UFC Vegas 69 main event and ex-champion Jessica Andrade was already lined up as a replacement.

Despite their vast differences and potential risks attached to Andrade, the 23-year-old flyweight prospect already had her mind made up that she was taking the fight. Blanchfield didn’t really care if it was Andrade or anybody else — her answer was always going to be yes.

“I got a call from my manager that Taila’s husband was unable to get a visa, and she basically wasn’t going to fight if he couldn’t come, but Jessica Andrade was already willing to take the fight,” Blanchfield told MMA Fighting. “I was, ‘OK perfect.’ I still wanted to fight. I’m down to fight whoever. We just made that up super quick.

“I told my manager over the phone right away that I was good to go. He was like, ‘Do you want to talk to your coaches?’ And I will, but I know I’m taking this fight anyway. Because I know my coaches understand, too, they know I can beat anybody.

“There was no, ‘Do we want to take this? Do we not?’ No, we want to fight. I’ve been preparing for a fight, and I want that main event spot. I want to move up, so no hesitation.”

While Santos is best known for her grappling, Andrade is 5-foot-2-inch buzzsaw who loves walking down opponents and blitzing them with power punches. In her most recent fight, Andrade unloaded with 231 significant strikes on opponent Lauren Murphy, the sixth-highest in UFC history.

With Andrade’s most recent victory, she also tied two-division champion Amanda Nunes for the most wins (15) in the history of the women’s divisions in the UFC. That might be intimidating to some, but Blanchfield prefers looking at Andrade’s history in a different way.

“I feel like everyone knows her style,” Blanchfield said. “She’s definitely a brawler. She goes in there to try and hit you as hard as she can. Comparing her to Taila, she’s definitely a little bit more of a wild fighter, and I think that’s why she has a bunch of finishes but also gets finished herself sometimes.

“Her style is a little sporadic, but she makes it work for her most of the time. That’s why she’s as known as she is, but I know what I need to do to counter that.”

Blanchfield is especially confident in her skills when she’s already had a full training camp. That played a huge factor in the decision to accept the fight against Andrade. In Blanchfield’s mind, she’s the one with an advantage going into the five-round main event.

“I’m well-rounded, so I know I can deal with anyone with any type of style,” Blanchfield said. “That didn’t really bother me. I already feel like I know what I need to do in order to get that win on Saturday. Also, maybe I only had short notice to prepare for her, but she has short to prepare for me, and she wasn’t planning on fighting either. It’s fair in that sense.

“It’s not like she was preparing to fight me, and then all of a sudden I get her. So we’re kind of on the same playing field with that. To me, it doesn’t really matter.”

Blanchfield’s fight on Saturday will also be the first time she is an underdog in her UFC career. She said that only adds to her anticipation to prove she’s one of the best flyweights in the sport.

“I mean the goal is always to dominate,” Blanchfield said. “To go in there and get a first round finish if possible. It’s happened to her before like [Zhang] Weili and [Valentina] Shevchenko, they kind of dominated their fights with her. I know on the best day, the best me, I can dominate anybody.”

Blanchfield already believed a win at UFC Vegas 69 could put her in line for a title shot, and nothing really changes with Andrade replacing Santos.

“I’m pretty much in the exact same position as before, just a different opponent,” she said. “I haven’t been thinking about that too much. I’m focused on the opponent in front of me and I need to win that in order for anything else to happen.”

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