Erin Blanchfield confident style works vs. Valentina Shevchenko: ‘I’ve been breaking her down for years’

Erin Blanchfield may have surprised a lot of people with her win Saturday at UFC Fight Night 219 – but she didn’t share in the astonishment.

At 23, Blanchfield (11-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) rumbled beneath the surface of contendership before her main event bout vs. Jessica Andrade at the UFC Apex. After she submitted Andrade in Round 2, Blanchfield broke through into the conversation as a potential next women’s flyweight title challenger.

A few leisurely days spent in Las Vegas later, Blanchfield arrived back home to New York on Tuesday. Though she sported a few bruises, Blanchfield feels overall pretty good physically and mentally, all things considered.

“I’m definitely feeling pretty good about it,” Blanchfield told MMA Junkie on Tuesday. “I’ve watched it a couple times back. Obviously, there’s always things I want to do better. I’m happy with the performance. I’m happy I got another finish. I’m excited to see what’s next.”

The performance rendered a lot of attention, which was further amplified by a rare in-cage callout by Blanchfield, who typically elects to avoid tossing out matchup suggestions.

“I never want to call my shots before the fight because it’s like, I want to prove myself. I know I can. I’m very confident in that, but I know I’ll have that chance on the mic after the fight,” Blanchfield said. “I always think about what I want to say after and I knew beating Jessica, who was No. 3. There are only two people above me: Taila (Santos) just kind of pulled out of the fight last-minute and Manon (Fiorot) is still hurt. I knew that I’m the only other person who would make sense right now to go for the title fight. I knew after I won this fight, especially after the way that I won it, I was going to call for that title. I think I definitely deserve that.”

When the UFC’s official rankings were released Monday, Blanchfield was listed No. 3. But because of the exact reasons she listed, as well as the proximity to Valentina Shevchenko vs. Alexa Grasso on March 4, Blanchfield thinks she will get next.

“I think after Alexa gets her shot, my likelihood is pretty high, especially after the way I finished my fight,” Blanchfield said. “I think it didn’t surprise me or my coaches, but it definitely surprised a lot of people. I definitely think the likelihood is high.”

The question of, “Is it too much, too soon?” has been attached to most Blanchfield fights throughout her career. Way more successful than her years would typically allow, Blanchfield has repeatedly answered that question with, ‘No,’ through her performances.

Largely unbothered by ever-increasing levels of attention, Blanchfield expects to once again prove the best is yet to come if and when she gets a crack at UFC gold.

“I think I’ll use my style (against Shevchenko) that I’ve been beating everybody with,” Blanchfield said. “Everyone kind of underestimates me a little bit just because of my age and because I don’t have that many fights in the UFC. I know I can win these fights. I feel like I’ve been breaking her down for years. I’ve been watching her since I was in high school. I know once I get in there that we’ll have a good game plan and that belt is going to be mine.”

Shevchenko needs to get through Grasso at UFC 285. Blanchfield will root for Shevchenko to do so. For nearly Blanchfield’s entire pro career, Shevchenko has held the women’s flyweight strap. In a way, Shevchenko has always been the target. To be the one to finally dethrone the longtime 125-pound queen would mean the world to Blanchfield.

“I think a matchup against Valentina and beating her is huge for my career,” Blanchfield said. “It’s a pretty special moment, like the Conor McGregors and Amanda Nuneses, who when they lose, everybody freaks out. I know it’s also going to be like, ‘You’ll fight her and then you’ll have to fight her again and prove it again.’ I’m kind of excited for that opportunity.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 219.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie