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UFC Vegas 69 preview: ‘Andrade vs. Blanchfield’ predictions

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just one day away from the upcoming UFC Vegas 69 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which is set to go down tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 18, 2023) on ESPN+ from inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a women’s flyweight main event between Top 10 title hopefuls Jessica Andrade and Erin Blanchfield, a five-round headliner with serious title implications for late 2023 and beyond.

LIVE! Stream UFC San Antonio On ESPN+

BLOCKBUSTER BANTAMWEIGHT CONTENDERS’ BOUT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) departs APEX for a special “Fight Night” extravaganza at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Sat., March 25, 2023, featuring a pair of thrilling 135-pound bouts. Surging No. 4-ranked contender Marlon Vera goes for his fifth consecutive win when he takes on exciting finisher and No. 5-seeded Cory Sandhagen. In UFC San Antonio’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, former women’s 135-pound champion and current No. 3-ranked Holly Holm battles Yana Santos (No. 4).

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the light heavyweight collision between Zac Pauga and Jordan Wright, check out Patrick Stumberg’s breakdowns for the UFC Vegas 69 preliminary card — which he wrote while administering IV fluids to Islam Makhachev — by clicking here and here. In addition, in-house pro fighter Andrew Richardson covered the rest of the UFC Vegas 69 main card right here.

For the latest “Andrade vs. Blanchfield” odds and betting lines courtesy of our fiscal friends over at Draft Kings go here.

Let’s talk shop.

125 lbs.: Jessica Andrade vs. Erin Blanchfield

Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade

Record: 24-9 | Age: 31 | Betting line: -155
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 8 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 4 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 5’1“ | Reach: 62” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 6.80 | Striking accuracy: 51%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 5.26 | Striking Defense: 54%
Takedown Average: 2.72 (55% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 73%
Current Ranking: No. 3 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Lauren Murphy

Erin “Cold Blooded” Blanchfield

Record: 10-1 | Age: 23 | Betting line: +135
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’4“ | Reach: 66” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.79 | Striking accuracy: 57%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.45 | Striking Defense: 61%
Takedown Average: 4.00 (68% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 75%
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Submission win over Molly McCann

Jessica Andrade comes into this five-round main event on super short notice and that leaves questions about her ability to last five rounds, especially when you consider the frenetic pace in which she fights. That said, “Bate Estaca” is coming off a technical knockout victory over Lauren Murphy (and a full camp) as part of the UFC 283 pay-per-view (PPV) event roughly three weeks before getting the call to replace Taila Santos in “Sin City.” Andrade has been competing at the highest levels of competition for over a decade and considers herself a full-time fighter; meaning, she doesn’t take an extended vacation and wait for Mick Maynard to call her before hastily jumping into fight camp. Andrade is in the gym at all times and consistently working on her overall fight game which admittedly, has not changed much over the years. Even fans who don’t appreciate women’s MMA typically tune in for an Andrade fight because they know it’s going to be violent from start to finish.

You don’t score nine performance bonuses and set five strawweight records by playing it safe.

Blanchfield remains one of the youngest fighters in the division at age 23 and upset a lot of fans with her submission victory over Internet darling Molly McCann. It was the seventh straight win for the “Cold Blooded” flyweight dating back to her regional days in both Invicta FC and Cage Fury Fighting Championships. She has a decent height and reach advantage over Andrade — as most opponents do — but it’s unlikely to do her much good without the matador-like defense (or precision counterpunching) we saw from Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Other fighters like Valentina Shevchenko have also been able to neutralize the Brazilian but that was by way of brute force and devastating power. Blanchfield doesn’t have those same weapons but she has a dangerous submission game and a ridiculous 4.00 takedown average per fight, though she whiffed on takedowns against JJ Aldrich and got taken down twice herself. Not that it mattered since she won by submission, but it’s worth pointing out because Andrade is an aggressive fighter with a formidable wrestling attack of her own.

Andrade enters this contest as a slight favorite, likely because of her incredible resume with battlefield experience against some of the biggest names in the sport. She’s also coming off three straight wins over very tough competition. If Blanchfield prevails, it will likely come from an Andrade error, like a takedown into a guillotine or something of that nature, since “Bate Estaca” may be too wily in the scramble to get locked up on the ground. Conversely, I’m not sure “Cold Blooded” is prepared to absorb seven significant striker per minute, so this fight should tell us whether or not Blanchfield belongs in the title conversation. Too soon, in my opinion.

Prediction: Andrade def. Blanchfield by technical knockout

205 lbs.: Zac Pauga vs. Jordan Wright

Zac “The Ripper” Pauga

Record: 5-1 | Age: 34 | Betting line: -275
Wins: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’2“ | Reach: 76” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.71 | Striking accuracy: 64%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.14 | Striking Defense: 70%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Knockout loss to Mohammed Usman

Jordan “Beverly Hills Ninja” Wright

Record: 12-4, 1 NC | Age: 31 | Betting line: +230
Wins: 7 KO/TKO, 5 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’2“ | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.67 | Striking accuracy: 65%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 7.54 | Striking Defense: 32%
Takedown Average: 3.60 (50% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Dusko Todorovic

Zac Pauga was an early favorite to win it all on Season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), which feels like it happened years ago but in reality aired last May, with women’s bantamweight rivals Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena serving as opposing coaches. Pauga certainly lived up to the hype in the early going, capturing a decision victory over Nyle Bartling in the opening round before laying waste to Jordan Heiderman in the quarterfinals. That led to a main card spot opposite Team Pena cohort Mohammad Usman in the live finale but “The Ripper” — a heavy favorite heading into the contest — was unceremoniously stopped by “The Motor” in the second stanza. Pauga is a talented fighter with good boxing but he also turns 35 before the end of the month, so the window for him to make his mark in the light heavyweight division is closing fairly quickly. Fortunately, matchmakers have set him up to succeed this weekend at APEX.

Jordan Wright looked like a UFC caliber fighter on the regional circuit, racking up nine straight wins — all finishes — before earning a spot on Season 2 of Dana White’s “Contender Series.” The result was a 40-second knockout loss to Anthony Hernandez that was later overturned to a No Contest as a result of a positive drug test for “Fluffy” (marijuana). A rebound win under the LFA banner got Wright back into UFC but he’s been wholly unspectacular in six trips to the Octagon and is currently mired in a three-fight losing streak. I would not be surprised if this bout served as a “loser leaves town” match and with that in mind, it’s hard to pick against Pauga. I know it’s easy to say “I just got caught” after every knockout loss but I believe that to be the case for “The Ripper” — mostly because Usman is below average in just about every department. Expect Wright to be fighting like his job depends on it (probably because it does) and that aggressiveness may cost him via Pauga counterpunch.

Prediction: Pauga def. Wright by knockout

Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 69 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 69 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 69 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Andrade vs. Blanchfield” fight card and ESPN+ line up click here.

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