Erin Blanchfield believed that referee was in trouble for failing to stop Molly McCann’s fight earlier


At UFC 281, Erin Blanchfield was ready to gruesomely injure Molly McCann if she had to. She didn’t necessarily want to, however.

Pinning McCann with a crucifix in the first round of their preliminary-card bout, Blanchfield got the opportunity to damage her opponent. Blanchfield obliged by throwing elbows but it wasn’t enough to get Kevin MacDonald to end the fight.

“At one point, I was able to create a little distance and elbow her,” Blanchfield said Monday on The MMA Hour. She was moving and pushing, so I see the reason they didn’t stop her. But I remember in the moment being like, ‘How many times can I punch her unanswered before they can stop this fight?’

“I know she was kind of OK, but I saw her face grimacing; she was kind of making a little bit of noise, because I was hitting her a lot, as hard as I could, from that position. So I do remember thinking, ‘How many times is this is even allowed? Is he going to get in trouble for letting me hit her this many times?'”

The pro-McCann crowd at Madison Square Garden cheered when McCann, beet-red from all the shots, briefly escaped the position. They had booed Blanchfield as she walked into the arena; the UK flyweight came into the bout riding high on back-to-back spinning-elbow knockouts, buoyed by her alliance with breakout star Paddy Pimblett. UFC 281 was a major career turning moment for some, but Blanchfield’s fans who had the money put their trust in her.

“I remember almost laughing in my own head – they were like, ‘Ah!'” Blanchfield remembers. “And I was like, ‘She is not safe at all.'”

She had anticipated that McCann might be hard to get away. McCann was not going to help her, and she didn’t expect any assistance from the officials. McCann gave up when McCann offered her a kimura.

” I remember thinking that she would be unconscious if I didn’t choke her before the fight,” Blanchfield stated. Although I didn’t believe she was going tap from an armbar, a kimura, or some other means, it was there in fight and I almost waited to see if it would pop.

“I’ve popped other people’s shoulders, so I know what it feels like. It got pretty close. … I was prepared to dislocate her arm, and then the ref probably would have had to stop it between rounds, but then she tapped.”

In discussions about how to differentiate herself from her opposition, a younger Blanchfield had discussed a post-fight move that might be a signature to the fans. It was a natural instinct as she left McCann’s ring: a stroke of her shoulders. No big deal.

“I had control of the fight the whole time,” she said. I knew the submission was locked down. Honestly, it was easy, so it was my natural reaction.”

From the moment the bout was announced, Blanchfield was surprised the UFC made the matchup. McCann, ranked No. 15 in the UFC’s list (and unranked in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings) might have looked at her No. 12 number and jumped. To fight not far from home – she’s originally from Elwood Park, N.J. – on a major pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden was just fine with her.

” I wasn’t certain who they would ask me to fight next,” Blanchfield stated. It was a bit surprising when they asked me to face Molly. She was on a good run. Maybe she wanted someone higher up in the rankings. I’m not sure what she was thinking on her part, but it was a great fight for me.”

What comes next, in Blanchfield’s mind, is a shot at an opponent in the top-10, and after that, one in the top-five. Whatever her performance was, she certainly received a boost of visibility. That’s what often makes the difference between a middle-of the-pack fighter or a serious title threat.

Blanchfield is still working on her popularity. Her sidekick is not a mop-haired one. However, she has a very vicious ground game which could be quite interesting against Valentina Shevchenko, the champion of her division.

She can handle a few hecklers on the way to that fight.

“It’s my first experience with being booed. It was also something that I was accustomed to in fights,” Blanchfield stated. “I felt like I managed it very well and that gave me an additional push to win .”