Although Erin Blanchfield is still anticipating her first walk to the Octagon, she isn’t unfamiliar with the hoopla of a UFC fight week. For one, she went through the paces in April when she stepped in on short notice to face Norma Dumont, but the fight was ultimately scratched when Dumont missed weight.
Five months later, she’s back and properly prepared to make her debut against Sarah Alpar at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Spann. Moreover, it’s her first fight since July 2020, so she is just as eager to return to action.
“I feel like I’ve gotten so much better since the last time anyone’s seen me fight,” Blanchfield told UFC.com. “I’m just really excited that I feel like it’s going to be a new version of me when I get to fight again this Saturday. I’m excited for that.”
The 22-year-old has six professional wins to her name (five finishes), her lone loss coming in a split decision against Tracy Cortez. She also picked up wins over UFC fighters Kay Hansen and Victoria Leonardo, the latter of which came in stunning fashion thanks to a flush head kick. Along the way, she has facilitated a strong reputation as a fighter to watch, and now that she’s in the UFC, she feels prepared to step onto the sport’s largest stage.
All things considered, Blanchfield is a picture of composure on confidence during fight week, and she doesn’t anticipate any of the infamous Octagon jitters to ruin her night
“I think that’s all mental,” she said. “If you don’t think about it too much, if you don’t make it a bigger deal than it is, at the end of the day, it’s the same thing I’ve been doing with Invicta or any other organizations I’ve been fighting in. Once we’re locked in there, we just have to fight. I know it’s a bigger platform, and more people are watching and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, it’s the same job. We’ll just get it done.”
Blanchfield is the latest in an influx of young, under-25 talent coming into the UFC ready to make a splash, particularly in the flyweight division. In the last few years, names like Maycee Barber, Cory McKenna, Hansen and others have entered the promotion at a relatively young age and more than handled their business.
Of course, the shine of being a young prospect goes away quickly, and to them, they’re just taking the natural next step in their career. The same is true for Blanchfield, who sees her early emergence as less of a milestone and more like a matter of time. Seeing others around her age find success in the Octagon doesn’t validate her as much as fuel her competitiveness and eagerness to start making her own headway at the highest level.
“I kind of feel that if they’re in there, I can be there, too,” she said. “I think it’s probably happening because MMA has been around a little bit longer now, so now you’re getting kids that started training – like I started training no-gi jiu jitsu and kickboxing, so I kind of started doing both, whereas previously it’d be people in one discipline, and they had to learn how to do everything else. Now, it’s a lot of younger people coming in and they’ve been training everything since they were young. I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot more younger people coming in now. Yeah, it’s awesome.”
On fight night, Blanchfield is one of the biggest betting favorites on the card, a position she doesn’t mind whatsoever. She’s doing what she loves, and she’s confident in her abilities, so the expectations are more just a byproduct of the work she has put in since she started training at seven years old.
Although she isn’t looking past Alpar by any means, Blanchfield seems like she’s leaning toward taking an inside track in the ever-growing flyweight division, which is currently under Valentina Shevchenko’s rule.
“I definitely want to get into the rankings as soon as I can,” she said. “I want to become the champion in this weight class, for sure. That’s obviously the ultimate goal, and whatever fights I have to take to get there is what I’ll do. I’m not scared to fight anybody, so if I can get into the rankings as soon as I can, that’s what I’ll do.”
The first step on that journey comes on September 18. Blanchfield expects a tough fight from Alpar, but also one that will allow her to show off her well-rounded skill set, which she feels is a bit underrated. Blanchfield didn’t care so much about who she fought as she did about just getting that debut out of the way.
When she makes that first jaunt to the Octagon, she’ll be locked-in, zoning everything out and acutely focused on making the most of her first impression on UFC fans.
“I just want to show that I’m here in the flyweight division to make a statement,” Blanchfield said. “I’m not just happy to be here. I definitely want to become the champ, and I plan on showing that in all my fights.”