Erin Blanchfield was not slow to react when she was informed that Taila Santos had been pulled from the UFC Vegas 69 main events. Ex-champion Jessica Andrade was also available as a replacement.
Despite their vast differences and potential risks attached to Andrade, the 23-year-old flyweight prospect already had her mind made up that she was taking the fight. Blanchfield did not care who Andrade was — she knew that the answer would be “yes” regardless of whether it was Andrade.
“I got a call from my manager that Taila’s husband was unable to get a visa, and she basically wasn’t going to fight if he couldn’t come, but Jessica Andrade was already willing to take the fight,” Blanchfield told MMA Fighting. “I was, ‘OK perfect.’ I still wanted to fight. “I’m up to fighting anyone. That was super fast.
“I told my manager over the phone right away that I was good to go. His response was, “Do you want me to speak to your coaches?” I said yes, even though I knew I would win this fight. My coaches also know that I am capable of beating anyone.
” “Do we want this?” was not the question. We want to fight. I have been training for the fight and want to be in that main event. I want to move up, so no hesitation.”
While Santos is best known for her grappling, Andrade is 5-foot-2-inch buzzsaw who loves walking down opponents and blitzing them with power punches. In her most recent fight, Andrade unloaded with 231 significant strikes on opponent Lauren Murphy, the sixth-highest in UFC history.
With Andrade’s most recent victory, she also tied two-division champion Amanda Nunes for the most wins (15) in the history of the women’s divisions in the UFC. That might be intimidating to some, but Blanchfield prefers looking at Andrade’s history in a different way.
“I feel like everyone knows her style,” Blanchfield said. “She’s definitely a brawler. She will go in to hit you hard if she can. She’s a bit like Taila. I find her a lot more wild than Taila.
“Her style is a little sporadic, but she makes it work for her most of the time. This is why she’s so well-known. But I’m aware of what I can do to combat that .”
Blanchfield feels especially confident about her abilities after she has completed a training camp. That played a huge factor in the decision to accept the fight against Andrade. In Blanchfield’s mind, she’s the one with an advantage going into the five-round main event.
” I’m well-rounded so I know that I can handle any style,” Blanchfield stated. “That didn’t really bother me. I already feel like I know what I need to do in order to get that win on Saturday. Also, maybe I only had short notice to prepare for her, but she has short to prepare for me, and she wasn’t planning on fighting either. In that way, it’s reasonable.
“It wasn’t like she was going to fight me. Then all of a suddenly I get her. We’re on the same level with this. It doesn’t matter .”
Blanchfield’s fight on Saturday will also be the first time she is an underdog in her UFC career. That only increases her excitement to show that she is one of the top flyweights in UFC.
” I mean that the goal is to always dominate,” Blanchfield stated. “To go in there and get a first round finish if possible. She’s had it happen before, like [Valentina] Shevchenko and [Zhang] Weili. They kinda dominated their fights together. I know on the best day, the best me, I can dominate anybody.”
Blanchfield believed that a win at UFC Vegas 69 would put her in the running for a title shot. Andrade’s replacement of Santos is not a major change.
” I’m in the same place as before but with a new opponent,” she stated. “I haven’t been thinking about that too much. I’m focused on the opponent in front of me and I need to win that in order for anything else to happen.”