Erin Blanchfield has made it clear that she is a strong contender for the UFC women’s flyweight championship held by Valentina Shevchenko. Blanchfield put on a polished, improved performance against former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade and left no doubt that she is a serious challenger.
Before the fight, it was believed that Andrade had the edge in striking and Blanchfield had the advantage in grappling. It became clear that only one of those assumptions was true. Blanchfield used her six-inch reach advantage to outmaneuver Andrade and eventually win via rear-naked choke submission in the second round.
Andrade got off to a strong start, but Blanchfield soon found her rhythm and was able to keep Andrade from making contact. Blanchfield used an inside trip early in the second round to take control and secure the submission.
“Give me the winner of Shevchenko vs. [Alexa] Grasso next,” Blanchfield said in her post-fight interview. “I’m going to win the title and become UFC champion.”
Blanchfield is likely to move up to the No. 3 spot in the UFC women’s flyweight rankings, just behind joint No. 1 contenders Taila Santos and Manon Fiorot. Blanchfield was originally scheduled to fight Santos, but Andrade stepped in for Santos on seven days’ notice. Despite the loss, Andrade became the 10th fighter in UFC history to land (and exceed) 1,500 strikes inside the Octagon.
Blanchfield will be watching the outcome of Shevchenko vs. Grasso at UFC 285 on March 4 with great interest.