Erin Blanchfield may have just secured her spot as next title contender in the women’s flyweight division following a jaw-dropping performance in the UFC Vegas 69 main event.
The 23-year-old fighter didn’t skip a beat with a late change of opponents going from Taila Santos to Jessica Andrade because she appeared more than ready for whatever challenge got thrown at her. Following a surprising start on the feet where Blanchfield was more than holding her own, she eventually turned back to her grappling and only needed one takedown to end the fight.
As soon as she dragged Andrade to the canvas, Blanchfield advanced to take the back and locked up the fight ending rear-naked choke with the end coming at 1:37 in the second round.
“She hits really hard but I got that clinch and I could just feel that [submission] from there and took it,” Blanchfield said afterwards. “I know she was a good striker, I knew she wouldn’t want to go to the ground with me.
“I knew I was going to have to deal with [her striking] and I’m glad I have the experience. Definitely don’t want to get hit as much next time. It was a good experience.”
Despite her reputation as a ground specialist Blanchfield showed no fear stepping into the lion’s den and trading punches with Andrade as soon as the action got started. Blanchfield was quick to pull the trigger on a number of nasty combinations with several shots tagging Andrade and snapping her head backwards.
Blanchfield’s reach was giving Andrade problems as the Brazilian kept coming up a little short when she stepped into the exchanges. The New Jersey native eventually looked for the takedown but had no problem hanging in the pocket and trading bombs with Andrade.
It wasn’t until the second round when Blanchfield finally dragged Andrade to the canvas and that’s where she displayed her true dominance in the fight.
With Andrade stuck underneath her, Blanchfield shredded her opponent’s defense to then take the back and it was almost an immediate transition to slip the arm under the chin to latch onto the rear naked choke.
Blanchfield had such a tight grip that she didn’t even have time to secure her legs in position before Andrade was forced to tap with referee Herb Dean quickly jumping in to rescue her.
The win moves Blanchfield to 11-1 in her career, 5-0 in the UFC and now she’s setting her sights on a championship with designs on facing the winner in the upcoming flyweight title fight at UFC 285 on March 4.
“Give me the winner of [Valentina] Shevchennko vs. [Alexa] Grasso next,” Blanchfield said. “I’m going to win a title and be a UFC champion.”