Erin Blanchfield has solidified herself as one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) top and most exciting rising contenders.
On arguably the most stacked card of the year, Blanchfield took on the popular and global star Molly McCann and she did everything but disappoint as she submitted McCann via Kimura at 3:37 round one.
Fighting at Madison Square Garden is something that Blanchfield has always dreamed of doing and to be able to get the win there made it even more special.
“It was super cool,” Blanchfield said. “Yeah, it’s somewhere I’ve wanted to fight for a really long time and I was super excited to get that opportunity. Especially after getting booed at mock weigh-ins and at the actual fight, it felt really good to get that win.”
Getting booed by fans during the weekend was a first for Blanchfield but she expected it and there is reason to believe that it will never happen again, especially in her own backyard.
With the win, Blanchfield, who is now 4-0 in the UFC, moved up to number 10 in the flyweight rankings and extended her win streak to seven.
Because of how many eyes were on the fight and UFC 281, Blanchfield’s coach, Augie Matias, thought it was a huge win for her career.
“The win was huge, I mean there were a lot of eyes on that fight,” Matias said. “Whether it be celebrities or matchmakers, [the] public. [There] was a big card and [McCann] had a lot of hype too.”
Matias was impressed and spoke about the difference in Blanchfield’s striking skills compared to her last contest against JJ Aldrich, where she wasn’t as comfortable.
“Just [Blanchfield’s] movement with that fight, you see the difference between that fight and her fight against [Aldrich],” Matias said. “Even though [Aldrich], I find a superior striker than [McCann] but yeah, I saw a vast improvement in her striking from that fight, and from the two fights.”
A point of emphasis during this training camp was Blanchfield’s overall movement and improvement in creating the right angles.
The two spent the first 45 seconds on their feet until Blanchfield saw an opening for a takedown, which she was extra prepared for in that specific situation.
“It was just that she kind of loaded up on a big overhand and I saw it coming from like a mile away and we drilled going under those overhands for my takedown,” Blanchfield said. “So the second I saw it, I just knew that the takedown was [going to] be right there and I knew the finish would come quickly off of that so it’s kind of why I went there.”
The takedown was truly the beginning of the end for McCann as Blanchfield quickly mounted her and went to work. McCann spent nearly the whole time trying to fight off submission and crucifix attempts, all while taking many punches and elbows from Blanchfield.
“So for the first one I went for the Kimura and I needed to have my leg over her head to kind of keep her up on her side so I can get her arm behind her back,” Blanchfield said. “She knew that, so she was defending. She wasn’t allowing me to step my leg overhead and she was keeping her back pinned to the floor so I couldn’t get her arm behind her. So I went back to the crucifix, hit her a couple more times, and then when she turned up, she kind of gave me her side because she was trying to escape the crucifix again and that gave me the perfect position to go for the Kimura again and that one she couldn’t defend.”
While Blanchfield was hammering away with punches and elbows in the crucifix position, some thought that the referee was going to step in. Blanchfield knew that McCann was tough and she was ready to do whatever it took to get the finish.
“She’s pretty tough and I knew that she wouldn’t want to tap out but I had that Kimura so locked in, I knew even if she didn’t tap, her shoulder was probably going to pop or get dislocated,” Blanchfield said. “So then the fight would be probably over anyway. I was almost trying to think ‘what is she going to do? Is she going to tap or is she gonna force me to hurt her?’”
Blanchfield is starting to put everything together and Matias believes that she is already one of the most dangerous in the division.
“I think [Blanchfield] is far superior with her wrestling and jiu-jitsu game,” Matias said. “And now that she’s kind of understanding the angles with her striking, quickness and movement, she’s going to give these girls a hard time because they have to respect her striking and when you respect the striking, the takedowns are going to come really easy. And when you have [Blanchfield] on top of you, it’s a long day.”
In the meantime, Blanchfield will be waiting for her next opponent, which should be another step up in competition as she continues to chase a higher ranking en route to an eventual title shot.
The New Jersey native continues to dominate and with no signs of slowing down, she could be threatening for the Flyweight belt sooner rather than later.