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UFC Vegas 69: Jessica Andrade vs. Erin Blanchfield

After a trip down under to Australia for UFC 284 last Saturday night, MMA’s top promotion returns home to its Las Vegas headquarters for the first of four straight weeks of cards in Sin City. It all begins this weekend with UFC Vegas 69 and the UFC Vegas 69 main event.

The UFC Apex plays host to the promotion’s penultimate card of the shortest month of the year. Live coverage of UFC Vegas 69 is wall-to-wall on ESPN‘s subscription-based streaming platform, ESPN+. The prelims kick off at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT, followed at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT with main card action.

All told, barring any further postponements and/or rebookings prior to Saturday, and there were a number of fight adjustments leading up to this event, UFC Vegas 69 will feature an 11-fight slate, capped off with a top-10 showdown at 125 lbs.

Andrade, Blanchfield Take Center Stage in UFC Vegas 69 Main Event Saturday

Highlighting Saturday night’s itinerary is the battle between No. 3 contender Jessica Andrade (24-9 MMA, 15-7 UFC) and No. 10 contender Erin Blanchfield (10-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC). As with all UFC headlining bouts, the UFC Vegas 69 main event will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close out the show.

Originally, this women’s flyweight bout was not scheduled to serve as the main attraction on Saturday night. In the run-up to UFC Vegas 69, the promotion had other ideas in mind.

Bantamweight Tussle Rebooked for San Antonio on March 25

When Saturday’s card was first scheduled, the advertised main event was slated to have been a confrontation in the UFC’s bantamweight division, where No. 4 contender Marlon Vera (22-7-1 MMA, 14-6 UFC) would have taken on No. 5 contender Cory Sandhagen (15-7 MMA, 8-3 UFC). This is no longer the case.

Although no official reason behind the rescheduling was given by the UFC, the Vera/ Sandhagen bout was rebooked for March 25 and relocated to San Antonio. AT&T Center will now play host to that fight next month. Its status as the main event is unaffected by the relocation.

UFC Vegas 69 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the UFC Vegas 69 main event on Saturday night, Erin Blanchfield stands as the taller gladiator at 5-foot-4, compared to the 5-foot-1 frame of Jessica Andrade. In addition, Blanchfield owns a four-inch reach (66 inches to 62 inches) and a one-inch leg reach (36 inches to 35 inches) advantage over Andrade.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Andrade installed as a -160 favorite, with Blanchfield countering as a +125 underdog. If you plan to bet on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Jessica Andrade With Quick Turnaround For Fight vs. Erin Blanchfield

Jessica Andrade comes into the UFC Vegas 69 main event on the strength of a 4-1 mark in her last five MMA bouts. Currently, she’s on a three-fight winning streak.

Last time out, she scored a unanimous decision victory against Lauren Murphy (16-6 MMA, 8-6 UFC) during UFC 283 on Jan. 21. Recently, Andrade was notified of an opening in the UFC Vegas 69 main event after Blanchfield’s original adversary, No. 9 contender Talia Santos (19-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) withdrew from the card because of visa issues.

Before her victory against Murphy, she met with the press and discussed the possibility of a title shot in a future fight.

“Yeah, for sure”, Andrade said of a championship fight at the time through her translator. “I want to go back to my division. Of course, there’s Valentina (Shevchenko), but I really want another chance to fight Weili Zhang.”

She may get that opportunity in the future. During fight week, Jessica Andrade and the UFC came to terms on a new contract that sees her continuing under the promotional banner for the next six fights, but she has to take it one bout at a time.

Erin Blanchfield Looking to Extend Winning Streak to Eight

Erin Blanchfield enters the main event on Saturday having gone 5-0 in her last five MMA appearances. At present, she’s on a seven-fight winning streak dating back to June 14, 2019. Most recently, Blanchfield, a veteran of both Invicta Fighting Championships and Cage Fury Fighting Championships, bested Molly McCann (first-round submission: kimura choke) during UFC 281 in November of last year.

Blanchfield appeared as a guest on Morning Kombat’s Room Service Diaries in December. Among the topics she discussed with hosts Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell were how she managed to stay focused on her goals that night, despite the negative reception she received from the fans at Madison Square Garden.

“I remember we were kind of talking about that in the gym before, but I didn’t really think of doing it in that fight,” Blanchfield began. “I didn’t let the crowd and stuff bother me too much before the fight, but everyone was booing me. I know when I was in the cage and I had her in crucifix, the crowd was silent whenever I was winning, then I remember she got her arm out for a second. I could hear everybody cheering, then I was like (expletive deleted) you guys.”

While Blanchfield won’t have to deal with a full audience on Saturday in the UFC Vegas 69 main event, if she stays focused, she can score the victory again.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC Vegas 69 main event is another one of those toss-ups. Both women are black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Thus, it stands to reason that the first takedown of the fight could be the only takedown of the fight. Do yourself a favor and don’t blink.

Andrade Has One-Punch Power

One aspect of Jessica Andrade’s fight game that’s shown up on video is her ability to end the fight with a single blow. Karolina Kowalkiewicz found this out firsthand in 2018.

Right from the command to fight, Andrade let loose on Kowalkiewicz with punches, forcing her to get out of harm’s way.

Despite Kowalkiewicz’ ability to counterattack (and she got in a few blows of her own after Andrade’s early surge), Andrade was simply too tough to handle on this night. A single on-target hook put Kowalkiewicz down and out to stay.

If Andrade’s punches are right on the button, the UFC Vegas 69 main event could be over right after it starts.

Blanchfield is a Submission Specialist

In the other corner, Erin Blanchfield has been known to lock in the submission from time to time. She’s got three submission wins to her credit, including her last contest against the aforementioned Molly McCann.

During the first round of a scheduled three, Blanchfield quickly stopped the crowd’s chants of “Meatball Molly!” with punches and movement. She continued to piece her up with punches to the face before landing a takedown.

From there, it was her world, as Blanchfield asserted control of the fight with her grappling and a flurry of ground and pound shots to soften McCann up for the eventual submission. Upon getting McCann in the crucifix, it was only a matter of time before she had the fight won.

At one stage in the fight, Blanchfield teed off with a staggering 104 unanswered ground shots. In spite of McCann’s effort to stay in the fight for as long as she did, Erin Blanchfield applied enough torque to sink in a deep kimura inside the first round.

Once Erin Blanchfield gets an opponent to the mat, she can effectively dictate the direction of the fight. It could give her the opening she needs for a win.

Final Thoughts

At the core, the UFC Vegas 69 main event is going to be the most entertaining fight all weekend long in MMA. Settle in on Saturday night and make a point to watch. You can go back to NBA All-Star Saturday Night or the XFL once the bout ends.

Prediction: Erin Blanchfield by Unanimous Decision.

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