Erin Blanchfield joined the UFC on the strength of two ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus-winning victories under the Invicta banner in 2020. And although she’s yet to earn a bonus inside the Octagon, the 23-year-old is 2-0 fighting with the world’s largest MMA promotion. ‘Cold Blooded’ looks to extend her UFC winning streak to three in a row when she faces the more experienced J.J. Aldrich in the curtain-jerker on Saturday’s UFC Vegas 56 fight card.
Originally signing with the UFC when she was 21, Blanchfield was asked to step in on less than two weeks notice to face featherweight fighter Norma Dumont in a bantamweight battle on April 10th, 2021. Blanchfield agreed, but the fight was eventually cancelled by the Nevada Athletic Commission, after Dumont checked in at 139.5 pounds on weigh-in day.
With a full fight camp behind her, Blanchfield made her UFC debut at the weight she normally competes at—125 pounds—opposite Sarah Alpar. The fight took place at UFC Vegas 35. Blanchfield was a -380 favorite over her +300 opponent in that scrap.
Blanchfield was impressive in a winning effort (30-25, 30-25, 30-26). After the contest, I wrote of her performance, “Blanchfield looked very good against Alpar and that should earn her a big step up in competition in her next outing. I’m not sure this fight was the best to judge the upside of Blanchfield, but it was an effort that warrants keeping an eye out for her next UFC booking.”
The reason for my reluctance was that Blanchfield simply overwhelmed Alpar, making it clear along the way that ‘Too Sweet’ simply wasn’t ready for this level of competition. The fight wasn’t even halfway through the first stanza before UFC commentator Michael Bisping observed that it was already “a tough night at the office” for Alpar and things didn’t get better for her from there.
By the time the mauling ended, Blanchfield had landed 198 of 318 attempted strikes and racked up nearly 10 minutes of control time.
Blanchfield’s second UFC engagement was a strange one. She originally agreed to face Maycee Barber at UFC 269 after Barber’s initially booked opponent, Montana De La Rosa dropped out. However, Barber herself withdrew from that event a month before the pay-per-view card took place. Blanchfield stayed on the card when Miranda Maverick, who was coming off a split-decision loss to Barber, agreed to the matchup.
When Bruce Buffer announced the competitors for their preliminary card bout, it was Maverick who was favored (-145) over Blanchfield (+125).
Despite the odds being against her, “Cold Blooded” Blanchfield controlled the 15-minute contest. Blanchfield tied the record for most takedowns in a UFC women’s flyweight bout (seven on eight attempts) on her way to a clean-sweep on the scorecards (30-27 x3). Much like her UFC debut. Blanchfield dominated in control time (12:00) and total strikes landed (96 vs. 42).
UFC commentator Daniel Cormier said as the fight came to its conclusion, “(From) the moment she got the first takedown, she was in the driver’s seat the whole time” That takedown came 50 seconds into the first round.
When Cormier’s fellow commentator, Joe Rogan, began his in-cage interview with the winning fighter, he opened with “Wow, what a performance. Miranda Maverick is a tough customer and you completely dominated her. I am beyond impressed.”
I shared Rogan’s exuberant thoughts on Blanchfield’s win. And with that, my initial reluctance to look at the young fighter as a potential threat in the 135-pound division faded significantly.
Blanchfield thanked Rogan for his words before adding, “When I was in here, I felt those takedowns were easy, the striking was easy and everything just came together.”
Despite her age and relative inexperience, Blanchfield has been impressive. She has outstanding wrestling, a heavy top game, nasty ground strikes and a black belt in BJJ. She looks like someone who could break into the flyweight rankings soon.
Blanchfield is getting noticed by her fellow fighters as well. Following her win over Gillian Robertson at UFC Vegas 50, Aldrich called for a fight opposite Blanchfield. The UFC must have liked the idea because that fight takes place on Saturday.
As for Blanchfield, she thinks it might be a little early for other fighters to call for her as an opponent, but she also sees the upside of the requests.
“I’ve only had two fights in the UFC, so it’s kind of quick for a callout,” Blanchfield told MMA Junkie. “It’s good, though. It means people are paying attention and people want to fight me and they want to see me fight. I’m excited about it. I love being called out. It kind of keeps your name out there. … I think it’s funny because they think they’re going to beat me. It never really works out for them.”
As of this writing, Blanchfield is one of the biggest favorites on Saturday’s UFC Vegas 56 fight card. She is listed as high as a -620 favorite over Aldrich, who checks in at +400.
UFC Vegas 56 takes place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The entire fight card streams on ESPN+.