Erin Blanchfield is one step closer to a UFC title shot — or, if you ask her, there are no more steps she needs to take.
The 24-year-old flyweight improved to 6-0 in the UFC on Saturday with a unanimous decision win over one-time title challenger Taila Santos at UFC Singapore. It wasn’t a dominant performance by the highly touted Blanchfield, but given her spotless record inside the octagon and some of her outstanding past performances, she believes she’s done enough to earn a championship opportunity.
“This definitely can make me the No. 1 contender for the title shot next,” Blanchfield said in a post-fight interview with UFC.com. “I know Manon [Fiorot] and Rose [Namajunas] are fighting as well. But you know, Taila, people arguably thought she won that fight against Valentina [Shevchenko], and Rose and Manon, neither of them ever fought Valentina.
“Rose is new to the division, so I feel like this is my sixth win at flyweight and my last win was against a former champ, and this one was against someone who almost beat the champ, so I feel like I’m definitely next in line.”
Flyweight champion Alexa Grasso next defends her title in an immediate rematch against Valentina Shevchenko at Noche UFC on Sept. 16. With Manon Fiorot welcoming two-time strawweight champ Rose Namajunas to the 125-pound division this coming Saturday, the possibility of a trilogy bout if Shevchenko avenges her loss, and then Blanchfield herself, whoever wins Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 has no shortage of options, as Blanchfield pointed out.
The popular Namajunas might take pole position should she win in her flyweight debut, but Blanchfield expects her to have a tough time against Fiorot anyway.
“I have a feeling Manon’s going to win,” Blanchfield said. “She’s just a little bit bigger girl. I think Rose is a great fighter and you never know, either girl can win, but if I had a pick, I’d pick Manon.”
Though a finish of the hardy Santos — who was fighting for the first time since narrowly losing split decision in a title fight against Shevchenko at UFC 275 in June 2022 — may have bolstered Blanchfield’s case for a title shot, in a sense, she’s grateful for how their three-round contest went.
“I expect these tough fights,” Blanchfield said. “I always hope to do even better, just get in there, don’t get hurt at all, finish the fight and get out, but tough fights like this are what make you grow, so sometimes you need them.”