LAS VEGAS — Erin Blanchfield might just be one of the best young title prospects the UFC has seen in years.
Blanchfield, 23, picked up the biggest win of her career on Saturday, submitting former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade via rear-naked choke at the 1-minute, 37-second mark of the second round. The strawweight fight headlined UFC Fight Night from the UFC’s Apex facility.
A former standout in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Blanchfield (11-1) has been signed to the UFC only since 2021 and has been fighting MMA professionally since 2018. A victory over the likes of Andrade (24-10) proved her legitimacy at 125 pounds.
“Give me the winner of [champion] Valentina Shevchenko and Alexa Grasso next,” Blanchfield said, referring to the scheduled March 4 title bout. “I’m going to win the title.”
Fighting out of New York, Blanchfield’s dominance on the ground has been something to behold thus far in her UFC career, and that was the case once again Saturday. She used an inside trip to get Andrade to the floor at the start of the second round and secured the rear-naked choke just moments later.
Perhaps more impressive, however, was her ability to hang with Andrade on the feet. Blanchfield failed to record a takedown in the opening round, but she did manage to connect on Andrade with multiple power right hands. Andrade is a well-known knockout artist, regarded as perhaps the hardest hitter at 125 pounds.
Saturday marked Blanchfield’s first appearance in a UFC main event. She was originally scheduled to fight former title challenger Taila Santos in a three-round fight but was moved to the main event when the UFC restructured its schedule. Santos withdrew last week, and Andrade agreed to fill in on short notice.
Despite fighting on short notice, Andrade was still a betting favorite going in. She had won three in a row going into this main event and was ranked No. 6 and No. 3 in the UFC’s strawweight and flyweight rankings, respectively.