Rising UFC flyweight contender and Montclair State University student Erin Blanchfield will look to get past the streaking Molly McCann in front of a hometown crowd.
Blanchfield and McCann will meet in the octagon at UFC 281 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Growing up, Blanchfield always had a dream of fighting at Madison Square Garden.
“I used to train a lot at [Renzo Gracie Academy], it’s literally across the street so whenever I’d go there, I would take the train and have to walk past Madison Square Garden every day,” Blanchfield said. “I’ve always wanted to fight there. All my family is from New York, and it’s also the mecca of combat sports so that’s like the biggest thing for me, I didn’t even care who I fought, I just wanted to get on that card.”
Blanchfield, who is the UFC’s 12th ranked flyweight, is currently riding on a six-fight win streak, half of them coming from matches within the UFC, and is coming off of an impressive second-round win over JJ Aldrich thanks to a standing guillotine choke.
Blanchfield made her UFC debut last September where she dominated Sarah Alpar in the match to a unanimous decision win and followed up with a record-setting performance against Miranda Maverick as she set the flyweight takedown record with eight.
On a three-fight win streak of her own, McCann, or “Meatball,” has had an exciting year, to say the least. Her year began with a bang at UFC London in March as McCann registered a devastating spinning back elbow finish in the third round over Luanna Carolina.
Just four months later, in London again, McCann defeated Hannah Goldy with another spinning back elbow leading to a first-round TKO. After back-to-back incredible finishes, McCann entered the official UFC flyweight rankings at 15th and has caught the attention of the public eye.
With Blanchfield and McCann clashing together with full heads of steam, Augie Matias, Blanchfield’s jiu-jitsu coach, believes this fight is an enormous opportunity for Blanchfield. UFC 281 is shaping up to be one of the best cards of the year and it is headlined by Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira for the middleweight title.
“Every fight is important, but this fight will have a lot of attention,” Matias said. “Big pay-per-view card with Adesanya as the main event will have a lot of eyes on [Blanchfield’s] fight. Having a fight at Madison Square Garden in front of her family and friends is big for [Blanchfield] personally. A win at UFC 281 will elevate [Blanchfield’s] popularity I believe. [McCann] brings a lot of hype which also brings a lot of attention to this fight.”
Both fighters offer unique styles and skills. Blanchfield is comfortable wherever the fight goes but has ultra-rare and elite grappling/wrestling for her age, whereas McCann almost always prefers to strike with her opponents.
Matias has supreme confidence in Blanchfield.
“This matchup is very good for [Blanchfield] and not good for [McCann],” Matias said. “[McCann] does not do well with grapplers and [Blanchfield] I believe is the best grappler in the flyweight division. So I’m not expecting a good night for [McCann].”
The winner of the matchup would likely end up cracking the top 10 of the flyweight division, which is an enormous step closer to a title shot.
Although McCann has had recent success, Blanchfield believes that the more well-rounded fighter will win.
“She’s a very aggressive fighter and she’s been fighting for a while, she has a good amount of experience, she definitely has more fights than I do,” Blanchfield said. “I think I am just a better overall fighter. I think I’m a little more well-rounded than her and it’s definitely going to show in the fight.”
All MMA fans and Red Hawks should stay on the lookout for this huge fight featuring one of our own.