Erin Blanchfield Discusses Preference for Staying Busy Over Waiting for Alexa Grasso or Valentina Shevchenko

UFC flyweight Erin Blanchfield is prepared to keep fighting and winning until a title shot becomes available, despite the reigning champion and another top contender being tied up coaching a TV show and potentially delaying her title shot until 2025.

Imagine this. Erin Blanchfield, victorious in her Saturday bout against Manon Fiorot at UFC Atlantic City, sails straight into a flyweight title shot. Sounds perfect, right?

Well, not so fast.

See, Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko, the reigning UFC flyweight champs, are all tied up. They’re coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. And, if the rumors are true, they’re heading towards a September showdown for their trilogy bout.

So, what does this mean for Blanchfield?

Well, she’s fighting at the end of March. But with Grasso and Shevchenko tied up, she might be waiting six months, maybe more, for a resolution. Her shot at the title might not even happen until early 2025.

Blanchfield? She’s not too rattled. But let’s be real, it’s not ideal. Grasso and Shevchenko are likely to hog the division for the better part of two years.

“I feel like everyone around me was a little bit [disappointed], but I needed to stay focused on what’s in front of me,” Blanchfield told MMA Fighting. “Manon’s in front of me. She’s a solid fighter. I can’t let things distract me. I need to put all my focus into that.”

She’s got a plan. Win big on March 30, then see what happens. There’s always going to be fights. She knows she’s at the top of the division.

“It could be harder because there’s less people, but you can make things happen. I’m not scared of fighting anybody else or losing my position. I’m super confident, whoever they put in front of me, I’m beating. I know I’ll maintain my position until a title fight is available.”

But here’s the thing. The more fights Blanchfield takes, the more risk she runs. Anything could happen. Losing is the big one, but injuries, other issues, they could all stop her from reaching her ultimate goal of becoming UFC champion.

It’s a gamble. But it’s one Blanchfield is willing to take. At age 24, she knows there’s a lot of road still ahead of her. She can’t allow herself to get so fixated on the title that it takes years off her career.

Instead, she prefers to stay active and busy. Even if that means taking on challenges that don’t necessarily make the most sense as a title shot looms on the horizon.

“I feel like if I was at an analyst perspective and it wasn’t me in it, I feel like I’d be more mad for myself,” Blanchfield said. “I feel like since I’m in it, I need to keep myself settled and stay focused on what I can do. Take the fights I can, win the fights I can, make the money I can.”

“It definitely is annoying having the trilogy cycle they have going on, but all I can do is keep fighting the fighters that are still there. Everything will get settled. They’ll fight and it will get squared away. I’ll have my fight that’s coming up. If I have to fight again before then, I’ll fight Maycee [Barber] or whatever they want, make some more money and win a title. It is coming. Keep winning and it’s going to come.”

When it comes to the matchup with Fiorot, Blanchfield has no doubts that she’ll keep her undefeated UFC record intact.

As a noted striker, Fiorot also boasts a perfect résumé since joining the roster, though Blanchfield believes her own road has been more telling.

“I do feel like I’ve fought tougher competition than her,” Blanchfield said. “I feel like that’s why I’m No. 2 and she’s No. 3. I feel like beating Taila [Santos], somebody that a lot of people thought beat Valentina [Shevchenko], and then beating [Jessica] Andrade, who’s just a super game fighter — she’s beating Rose [Namajunas] before, [not] in devastating fashion. I feel like I’ve beaten better fighters in my career, even though Manon, she’s beaten great fighters too, but I feel like my résumé is more impressive.”

No matter how it happens, a win should cement Blanchfield as the No. 1 flyweight contender. Even if she ends up taking another fight before getting a title shot. The 24-year-old New Jersey native wants to leave no doubts about her place in the division and the person most deserving at a future opportunity to become champion.

“I do not plan for it to go five rounds,” Blanchfield said. “I know whenever I’ve been in a three-round fight, I’ve never lost that third round and I’ve always come after them even harder. I’ve come close to finishes in third rounds. I think with two extra rounds with my cardio, I don’t see it going five rounds. I think I put her away.”

“I definitely do believe style counts. It’s not only winning, it’s how you win. I feel like even with my Jessica Andrade fight, I was No. 10 and I moved up really quick because people were even more impressed with how I beat her. It wasn’t a five-round slugfest where I barely won. No, I came in and I finished her. So definitely putting on a statement win is always the goal with every fight. I think that should be everybody’s goal at every level, because that will only push you that much further.”


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