Just four weeks after her dominant victory over Lauren Murphy at UFC 283, Jessica Andrade has stepped in on one week’s notice to fight Erin Blanchfield in the main event of this weekend’s UFC Vegas card. Rarely do we see a female fight get a late replacement when an opponent is forced to drop out, but you certainly don’t see former champions and top contenders like Jessica Andrade step in on one week’s notice, less than a month removed from their last fight. Jessica Andrade has solidified herself as the single most badass female fighter on the UFC roster.
Andrade has been fighting the best of the best in both the 115- and 125-pound divisions since 2014, finishing them at an extremely high clip. Eight of her 15 UFC victories have come by way of finish, and 17 out of her 24 total professional wins, making for an extremely high finish rate for Women’s MMA. She is equally lethal in the stand-up or grappling exchanges, having 9 wins come by knockout and 8 by submission. She is a former Women’s Strawweight Champion, having defeated Rose Namajunas by second-round knockout. She also challenged Valentina Shevchenko for her Flyweight title unsuccessfully in 2021 but will surely be granted another opportunity at Flyweight gold with a win over Erin Blanchfield this weekend. Andrade has fought four current or former UFC Champions as well as current Bellator Flyweight Champion Liz Carmouche and PFL Lightweight Champion Larissa Pacheco and is the only fighter to hold wins in the Female Strawweight, Flyweight, and Bantamweight divisions.
This Saturday, Andrade takes on rising prospect and 10th-ranked contender Erin Blanchfield in what will be Andrade’s fourth main event. Just Blanchfield’s fifth fight in the UFC, she is preparing for her first five-round fight of her young career. At just 23 years old, Blanchfield is the brightest young prospect in the division, having gone unscathed in her first four UFC fights. She is 10-1 in her pro career with her only loss coming by split decision to Tracy Cortez before the two were in the UFC. She was originally scheduled to fight number one contender Taila Santos in what was presumed to be a title eliminator and somehow may have gotten an even more difficult replacement opponent. Blanchfield also deserves credit for accepting this fight on late notice against someone of Andrade’s caliber, but at the end of the day, Jessica Andrade has so much more to lose in this matchup.
Andrade just took Lauren Murphy’s number two ranking in the division last month and now she puts it on the line against someone outside of the top five, and possibly puts herself a step further from a title shot with a loss. Whereas Blanchfield is a young fighter with no losses in her young UFC career that will lose momentum or rank in the division with a loss to a veteran and a former champion, she will mostly be viewed as fighting outside of her league with nothing to lose. But in reality, she is a very live underdog. Both fighters fight to finish, and I, for one, do not expect this to get to the judges’ scorecards. Jessica Andrade will be too much too soon for Blanchfield and prove once again that she is the baddest female fighter on the roster.