Erin Blanchfield was scheduled for her first main event in only her fifth fight with the UFC at UFC Vegas 69. However, with just over a week until the fight, Taila Santos had to withdraw from the fight and in stepped former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade.
The fight was contested at 125lbs, where Andrade had tried and failed to beat the queen of the flyweights, Valentina Shevchenko — who Blanchfield has her sights set on. Blanchfield has defeated opponents with her wrestling and submission skills in the past, like when she dispatched Molly McCann in the first round in 2022, but Andrade has turned aside wrestlers before. More importantly, not many fighters have withstood the stormy onslaught of punches that Andrade unleashes, no matter which division she is in.
It remained to be seen if Blanchfield was capable of that.
Andrade opened up as she always does, throwing for the bleachers, and she immediately backed Blanchfield off. But the youngster was not discouraged as she came forward again with punches. After only forty seconds Blanchfield clinched up, but Andrade defended all the takedowns offered there and got back to striking. Ninety seconds in, Erin shot a true double leg takedown but Andrade defended easily. After that Blanchfield began to out-strike Andrade, peppering her with straight punches and dodging out of the way of the wild counters.
Andrade unloaded with wild hooks but Blanchfield dodged most of them. At one point she ate a particularly big right hand that she could not avoid. Erin tried to clinch up and recovered while Andrade worked on escaping. With twenty seconds left Blanchfield got in deep on a takedown but Andrade was able to defend and get to the fence, where the round ended in the clinch.
Round two began with Erin trying to do what she did in the first round. Andrade attempted to pressure her to land big shots but Erin’s forearms deflected a lot of the looping hooks of the Brazilian. One minute into round two Blanchfield took Andrade down with a trip from the clinch. When Andrade tried to stand up, Blanchfield took her back. Like lightning, she strapped her arms around the chin and Andrade was forced to tap before she even had a chance to defend the choke.
With this win Erin Blanchfield likely earned a UFC title shot. With that in mind, she called for the winner of Shevchenko vs. Alexa Grasso following the bout. With the win over Andrade, she has submitted one of the all-time great women’s champions. A woman who overwhelms less physically imposing specimens with her power and tenacity. Yet here Blanchfield, the leaner fighter, was able to use sharp striking to stave off the onslaught, then take down a woman who has great takedown defense and submit her in the blink of an eye.
The performance could hardly have been more impressive.
Official Result: Erin Blanchfield def. Jessica Andrade by Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2, 1:37