The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) flyweight division has a new face to worry about as Erin Blanchfield has turned some heads in the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) scene.
The 22-year-old, who is originally from Elmwood Park, New Jersey, has a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu. Blanchfield recently attended Montclair State University, but has since then stepped away from the classroom to shift her focus onto her mixed martial arts career.
“I enjoyed my time at [Montclair State], but I decided to focus more on my fighting career and moving up in the ranks in UFC,” Blanchfield said.
With an 8-1 (2-0 UFC) record, Blanchfield has quickly made an impact in her respective division after two dominant victories over Sarah Alpar and Miranda Maverick.
The highly-touted prospect made her debut at UFC Fight Night 192 last September, and she did not disappoint. Blanchfield nearly got a stoppage in every round; however, Alpar stayed alive until the final bell. In the end, the scorecards read, 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26, all in favor of Blanchfield.
Blanchfield dominated and showed just how well-rounded her game is by having almost 10 minutes of ground control and landing over 150 strikes.
Blanchfield’s jiujitsu coach, Augie Matias spoke to what helps her to be so dominant in the octagon.
“She’s dangerous everywhere,” Matias said. “I used to say her jiujitsu was her strongest point, but right now her wrestling is her strongest point. She has really dedicated herself to wrestling.”
Following her victory at UFC Fight Night 192 and after numerous opponent changes, Blanchfield was able to get back into the octagon this past December against Maverick, who is also viewed as a young star, at UFC 269.
Once again, Blanchfield shined under the bright lights. She showed off her elite wrestling as she set a new takedown record in the flyweight division with eight. It was clear early on that her grappling skills overmatched Maverick. Blanchfield dragged the talented Maverick around and mauled her for much of the fight.
Blanchfield described what it felt like to win at a prestigious event like UFC 269.
“[With] every fight I go into, I kind of expect to win,” Blanchfield said. “So, once I do, it’s not that big of a surprise. I feel like after every fight, win or lose, I want to cry because I know how much it means for my future. But honestly, it was a good feeling.”
Many big names involved with the sport recognized Blanchfield’s performance, including UFC commentator, famous comedian and podcaster, Joe Rogan.
“It’s crazy how advanced Blanchfield is at 22 years old,” Rogan said. “She’s not just a wizard on the ground, but she’s very good standing up.”
Matias believes Blanchfield is ready for a step up in competition.
“I’ve been watching the top 15 fighters and they are striking heavy … I think they will all have a hard time with [Blanchfield’s] wrestling and jiujitsu,” Matias said. “[Blanchfield’s] striking can pretty much keep up with them as well. I really think she can take on anybody, including Valentina [Shevchenko].”
Shevchenko, the current UFC flyweight champion, has ruled the flyweight division as of late. However, many believe that it is only a matter of time before the younger generation starts to catch up.
Blanchfield talked about what sets her apart from the rest of the flyweight division, including Shevchenko.
“It’s a weird answer, but I feel like I just move better than some of the other girls,” Blanchfield said. “When I watch them fight, they kind of look stiff and awkward, and their game doesn’t flow well. I feel like when I fight, I just know how to transition better than so many of them.”
With now two impressive wins in the UFC, Blanchfield is turning her attention toward the rankings extremely confidently.
“I’m very confident in my abilities, especially against the top 15,” Blanchfield said. “I hope my next fight is against someone that’s between 10 and 15. I feel like most of them won’t be able to deal with my style.”
Blanchfield hopes to get back into the octagon by April, and by the looks of it, she’s on her way to soaring to greatness. Just like the Red Hawk she once was.