Will Erin Blanchfield’s rise continue in a tough fight against Tila Santos?

Estimated read time 4 min read

Every young fighter at the pinnacle of the sport has a defining moment when they prove there is something special behind the hype. If you exclude Saturday night’s devastating knockout from Aljamain Sterling, Sean O’Malley’s win as a +230 underdog over Petr Yan qualifies. Conor McGregor’s unlikely return by TKO against Chad Mendes also comes to mind, or even Amanda Nunes beating Miesha Tate for the title at UFC 200. It’s that moment when you watch a fighter rise to the challenge, and you realize we still have to see the real her. roof.

Erin Blanchfield’s second-round win over Jessica Andrade has sent the flyweight team into notice, and the fight we’re looking at could be that moment for her. Right after she raised her hand, the way people were talking about Blanchfield was different. The 24-year-old quickly went from being an up-and-coming prospect to being touted as a future hero.

Her chance to prove them right may come sooner than they are with a win over No. 4 Tila Santos in Singapore on Saturday. After closing as a slight underdog (+110) in her final fight, the market opened with Blanchfield as the favorite this time around. This is an impressive adjustment considering Santos is coming off a pinnacle loss in their championship clash against Valentino Shevchenko last summer.

Should we bet on Blanchfield to continue her fast track to the title shot? Or is the market now overselling the best ones in the department?

These two fighters were originally scheduled to face each other in February, but Santos was forced to withdraw, resulting in the Blanchfield-Andrade fight. This is significant only in the sense that Blanchfield was the most active fighter, with Santos out of competition for 14 months. It’s noteworthy, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a huge factor.

Possessing the position of the octagon will be crucial for both fighters. Santos’ strength and athleticism would prove to be Blashfield’s toughest test yet. Blanchfield, unfazed by the dangers of Andrade’s force, pushed her way through the pocket and made sure that the battle took place on her terms. Santos’ forehand will force Blanchfield to rely more on her improved footwork to set up her entries methodically.

Erin Blanchfield appears to be closing in on the title but she needs to beat Tila Santos on Saturday.  (Jeff Butari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Erin Blanchfield appears to be closing in on the title but she needs to beat Tila Santos on Saturday. (Jeff Butari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Where it gets interesting is when Blanchfield gets her hands on her opponent and tries to get the fight to the mat. Santos is extremely dangerous in the clinch, and can inflict serious damage with her knees at close range. If she can hook up Blanchfield, she may be able to land enough shots to create space, and avoid ending up on her back. Santos managed to counter Shevchenko, but a long roll with Blanchfield could have dire consequences.

While there are advantages to Santos, the stylistic rivalry favors Blanchfield. Her hitting still needs honing, but Blanchfield is excellent at weaponizing her forward pressure and rallying her opponent. She doesn’t flinch as she walks forward, welcoming exchanges knowing full well that they will create openings to secure the takedown.

I think the pressure and speed will eventually force Santos into a positional error, and allow Blanchfield to bring this fight to the ground, as she is one of the deadliest fighters in the division. Santos is no slouch on the mat, but Blanchfield’s mix of elite grappling, punishing ground and pound, is on another level. Her probability of winning increases exponentially the longer Santos is kept off her feet. Given that she averages 3.76 eliminations per 15 minutes, I’m confident she can win rounds should Santos’ defense hold. The odds of a continued move in Blanchfield’s favor suggest she’s the right candidate, so it’s best to lock this in for now. Bet: Erin Blanchfield -150

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