Manon Fiorot aims to ‘be like Khabib,’ retire without losing in UFC

Go ahead and call her Nate Diaz, because Manon Fiorot was not surprised in the slightest by how effortlessly she shut down Erin Blanchfield at UFC Atlantic City.

“It was an easy fight to prepare for,” Fiorot said through a translator on The MMA Hour.

“To be honest, it was the fight I expected. Perhaps, in my mind, it was [going to be] tougher than this fight, but I really think this fight [was matched up stylistically in my favor] when I think about it, and that was the fight you saw Saturday.”

Fiorot, 34, dominated Blanchfield from pillar to post to earn a lopsided unanimous decision in Saturday’s main event and become the first woman in the UFC to beat the American. Blanchfield had previously racked up six consecutive wins to start her octagon run and was being generally hailed as a future champion of the women’s flyweight ranks, but Fiorot shut down her grappling attack and easily outclassed on her the feet to pull off the upset.

The win put Fiorot at a perfect 7-0 under the UFC umbrella and cemented her as the unquestioned No. 1 contender at 125 pounds, however her future remains uncertain because of the division’s hazy timeline — UFC champion Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko are slated to coach The Ultimate Fighter 32 this summer, with a trilogy bout expected to be booked sometime for the third or fourth quarter of the year.

Fiorot isn’t interested in waiting around.

“To be honest, I can fight anybody in the division for a belt, an interim belt,” Fiorot said. “But perhaps I can do the backup [role] for the title fight too. For now, I don’t know, but I really want to be active and I really want to fight for a belt.

“I really think I deserve that title shot, but I don’t want to wait one year and I really want to be active, so now we have to discuss with UFC and we will see.”

Fiorot’s ascent is yet another highlight of the recent rise of French MMA. Her impressive UFC run includes wins over one-time title challengers Mayra Bueno Silva, Jennifer Maia, and Katlyn Cerminara, as well as a hard-fought victory over two-time champ Rose Namajunas.

Fiorot said Wednesday that she takes inspiration from former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and wants to “be like Khabib” by retiring with no UFC losses. It’s part of the reason she fights as carefully as she does, which has led to the only real criticism of her UFC career — her past five wins have all gone to decisions.

“When I think about my career, I really think about legacy,” Fiorot said. “I know a lot of great champs fight like that [and don’t] take a lot of risks, and I really want to win and get the title. And perhaps when I become champion, I’ll take more risks, but for now I just want to win.”

Fiorot targeted the UFC’s rumored return to Paris in September as a potential landing spot for her next bout. She knows the mystery of her next opponent is a more difficult question to answer considering her circumstances, however she expects to ultimately face both of the women involved in the current title trilogy before all is said and done.

“When I arrived in the UFC, Valentina was undefeated in the division. And when I think about a dream fight, it’s Valentina, for sure,” Fiorot said. “But for now she lost against Alexa, so I don’t have a preference, but I really think I have to fight both. And if I fight one for the title, I have to defend the title against the other, so I think I have to win against both.”

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