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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC Vegas 69’s Jessica Andrade and Erin Blanchfield

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight queen, Jessica Andrade, steps up on short-notice to take on top prospect, Erin Blanchfield, this Saturday (Feb. 18, 2023) at UFC Vegas 69 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Andrade’s Flyweight foray continues despite a more clear path to Strawweight gold. In this case, however, it makes more sense. Andrade barely took a punch against Lauren Murphy, battering “Lucky” from pillar-to-post. She’s in peak form at the moment, so why not score a bonus paycheck by stepping in to save a card while still in shape from that last fight. Blanchfield enters the biggest fight of her young career riding a seven-fight win streak. Prospects of any kind are difficult to come by at 125 pounds, but Blanchfield is bucking that trend by largely dominating her competition at just 23 years of age. The jiu-jitsu black belt sure looks like a future champion, but that doesn’t guarantee success this weekend.

Let’s take a closer look at the skills of each woman:

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Andrade is built for violence. Particularly at 115 pounds, she’s so much stronger and more powerful than her opponents. Even at Flyweight, she largely (wo)manhandled her opponents, with the sole exception of the champion.

On the feet, Andrade frequently draws comparison to John Lineker with good reason. Though Andrade does not quite possess Lineker’s boxing craft, the two share a love of aggressively swinging for the knockout with wide hooks and overhands. Again, Lineker tends to set up his punches better, but when the two go into full brawl mode, the comparison really fits

Andrade does not hide her intentions. The Brazilian is going to charge forward on a straight line, swinging hooks and eventually crashing into her opponent. That lack of subtlety does mean Andrade is rather easy to counter. Even in many of her wins, opponents have landed easy counter right hands by circling laterally, planting their feet, and sticking as cross as Andrade chased.

The problem is that Andrade is not determined by a few right hands. In fact, Jedrzejczyk spent the better part of five rounds landing dozens of counter strikes — including stinging rights and clean high kicks — and Andrade was still chasing and swinging late into the fight. Eventually, all those women except for Jedrzejczyk slowed down a bit or allowed Andrade into the pocket, at which point Andrade’s physicality began to take over.

Perhaps the most important development to Andrade’s approach is her commitment to body shots (GIF). Andrade may still be winging hooks through the air, but the mid-section is a much larger target. Body shots ruined gas tanks and make active footwork far more difficult, meaning each hook to the ribs further increases the amount of time Andrade will enjoy in the pocket. Furthermore, there’s the obvious benefit of causing an opponent’s hands to drop, which can create the opportunity for a knockout blow (GIF). Andrade’s body work (and low kicks) have really done wonders in wearing Rose Namajunas down in both of their fights.

Blanchfield’s kickboxing is easily the least developed part of her game. That said, she isn’t useless on her feet. “Cold Blooded” keeps an active jab as she pressures her opponent, and she’s willing to step forward with a left hook to mix it up. Occasionally, she’ll follow the jab with a cross, but really, she’s waiting for a big shot to come back her way so she can time a takedown.

An area of concern is Blanchfield’s kicking game. She actually throws kicks with nice form and can connect well with the shin, knocking her foes off-balance. However, she’s also guilty of running up into kicks from far too close, which could be a real issue against a hitter like Andrade.


Andrade’s wrestling has become dramatically more effective since dropping down to face opponents who are not much, much larger. Extremely powerful with a low center of gravity, Andrade looks to trap her opponent along the fence under that whirlwind of powerful hooks, at which point she’ll lower her level even further and drive into the hips with a shot.

Though she tends to prefer the high-crotch takedown, it doesn’t seem to matter whether her head is on the outside (GIF), inside (GIF), or chasing the double leg (GIF). Andrade understands the fundamentals of lifting a squirming opponent well. Namely, she does a good job of keeping her posture strong, meaning her head is high in her opponent’s chest rather than being stuffed low. Furthermore, she drives into her opponent with her hips, ensuring she isn’t bending at the waist.

Watch her infamous slam knockout of Rose Namajunas HERE and take note of her posture.

Since moving to 115 pounds, defensive wrestling has not been an issue for Andrade like it was against the bigger Bantamweights. Her wide swings do create openings for the double leg, which Tecia Torres managed to capitalize upon a couple times, but even then Andrade is so quick to work back to her feet that it hardly mattered. The same was true at Flyweight ... until Andrade fought Shevchenko. Against an opponent who could match her physical strength and really excels with clinch technique, Andrade’s wrestling was far less effective in general.

On the flip side, Blanchfield is NOT one of those jiu-jitsu aces who just cannot seem to comprehend takedowns. Her wrestling has been consistently strong from a number of different positions and situations, which is really one of the most promising signs for her overall potential.

Often, Blanchfield is looking for the double leg takedown, and her most recent showcase against Molly McCann was the perfect demonstration. She waited for McCann to fire her right hand, ducked under it perfectly, and then completed her double leg nicely by cutting a small angle and circling around her opponent’s legs (GIF).

That shot began in the open, but Blanchfield has shown good form along the cage as well. She’s flashed punches up high to set up the classic double leg along the fence downstairs. In other examples, she’s switched off to the high-crotch, elevated a leg, and tripped her opponent down.

She’s proven herself quite adept in the upper body clinch as well. Blanchfield just applies the fundamentals well, threatening with go-behinds, inside and outside trips, and transitions down into the double leg to consistently keep her opponents off-balance. Against Miranda Maverick, she also demonstrated her reactionary takedowns from the clinch, countering some forward pressure in the clinch with a slick whizzer kick throw.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Blanchfield is a black belt with submission grappling competition experience. She’s finished three opponents via tapout in the cage, but she’s shown really excellent transitional grappling even in fights where the stoppage didn’t materialize.

There are two really standout aspects of Blanchfield’s top position that lead to dominant spots and potential finishes. Firstly, she’s really good from turtle, a position she commonly scores after dragging foes down from the back clinch.

From that position, Blanchfield makes good use of the two-on-one wrist control, AKA the Dagestani handcuff. She doesn’t exactly maul opponents like Khabib from there, but Blanchfield does hang heavy and continually work to break down her opponent’s posture further. It’s wearing, and eventually, it opens up the full back take without major risk of falling over the top.

More often, Blanchfield is working from inside the guard, and she has a very nice sequence to advance position. After pressure passing her way to half guard, Blanchfield will take her head across her opponent’s body. From this position, she can start to isolate the arm, simultaneously threatening the kimura and full guard pass. If her opponent tries to explode from this half guard position, Blanchfield can reach back to wrap up the neck with a guillotine. If instead her foe tries to dig an underhook and come up on the single leg, Blanchfield has countered with the d’arce choke.

More likely, Blanchfield successfully uses the double threat to pass into side control. In that case, she digs the far side underhook and jacks it up high, keeping her head position tight to the canvas. Then, she sits her hips through and walks them high into the other arm pit. From here, she can start working to trap the near arm in a topside crucifix (GIF). This position allows her to drop unanswered blows, and often, transition to the kimura or armbar as her opponent frantically tries to escape (GIF).

Lastly, Blanchfield’s guillotine choke of JJ Aldrich deserves a shout. As Aldrich scrambled up from bottom position, Blanchfield quickly wrapped the neck and jammed her into the fence. Aldrich tried to defend correctly by reaching overtop the shoulder, but Blanchfield’s high-elbow position meant that defense was no longer in play. By the time Aldrich realized, she was fully trapped, and there was nowhere to go (GIF).

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Andrade has finished eight of her opponents via tapout. At Strawweight, Andrade proved her grappling by avoiding the submissions of Claudia Gadelha and generally dominating from top position. Plus, a big benefit of Andrade’s high-octane style of finishing takedowns is that she often lands passed the guard.

Offensively, Andrade’s signature technique is the arm-in guillotine. Overall, guillotines account for all but two of her tapout victories. Like the rest of her game, the technique here is not particularly complex, but that doesn’t make it less effective. After wrapping up the arm and neck, Andrade does a very good job of throwing her hips at her opponent, ensuring she’s able to secure guard and squeeze. Opposite Larissa Pacheco, Andrade used the same squeeze and heavy hips to finish the hold from top position half-guard (GIF). That’s generally a difficult position to finish the guillotine, and again it emphasizes the power of “Bate Estaca.”

Andrade’s most recent submission win was a gnarly display of physical strength. After ducking an Amanda Lemos’ left hook, Andrade chased the armpit with her head and came up in an arm triangle choke position. Generally, fighters will choose to pursue the takedown or throw knees from here, because it’s so difficult to actually finish the choke from standing.

Apparently, that’s not the case for Andrade, who quickly forced the tap (GIF).


Andrade is still in her prime and has one of the best resumes in women’s MMA. For her, she’s closing in on a title shot in whatever division she’d prefer. Conversely, Blanchfield is taking on a massive step up in competition, one very different from her original opponent. If she can pull that off, the sky is really the limit.

Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 69 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 69: “Andrade vs. Blanchfield” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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