Best bets for UFC Vegas 69: Jessica Andrade vs. Erin Blanchfield

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From a star-studded UFC 284 in Perth, Australia to this week’s Fight Night in Las Vegas, we march! Saturday afternoon’s event features talented combatants, albeit with far less name recognition which may make it more of an arduous watch for those other than the hardcore.

The UFC will keep us busy these next weeks as they’ll hold several Saturday night fight cards consecutively, beginning with last week’s event.  

 

Speaking of last week, Pilipino fighter Joshua Culibao -105 displayed his complete fight arsenal in a dominant submission win over power striker Melsik Bagdahsaryan adding a unit to our yearly accounting, but it’s early, and there is work ahead.

Insight the Octagon 2023:  2-1 2.15u

Jessica Andrade -150 vs. Erin Blanchard  130 

Women’s Flyweight (125 lbs) main event

This main event features two ultra-talented mixed martial artists. Further, this matchup exemplifies the transformation of MMA over the years. Andrade has been fighting professionally for twelve years, compiling an impressive 24-9 record. Blanchfield represents the new athlete in the UFC, one that arrives with youth, well-rounded skill and drive.

Brazilian ex-champion Jessica Andrade may be considered a groundbreaker, as women’s MMA was in its infancy when she began her career. She owns a black belt in BJJ and competes with an aggression not often seen in the UFC, let alone in the women’s divisions.

Andrade uses tough-mindedness in fights, an asset upon which she has come to rely. She confronts opponents with immediate, forceful, forward pressure, acute aggression and constant power striking. This simply overwhelms opponents, rendering them open to any form of finish Andrade decides to employ.

Fighting between two divisions, Andrade has amassed nine KOs, eight submissions and seven decisions over her career. She can dominate anywhere, and with the exception of two or three other women’s fighters between both divisions, few are able to deal with Andrade’s pure pressure for longer than a round.

 

 

In her last bout, Andrade defeated one tough, durable opponent in sixth-ranked flyweight Lauren Murphy, a fighter who had won six of her previous seven bouts, losing only to champion Shevchenko. Andrade pulverized Murphy in a fight that should have been stopped in the third but ended in decision.

A complete mixed martial arts arsenal—heart, aggression, strength, drive, and a decade plus of experience competing against the elite talent in two divisions—are Andrade’s qualifications. Her resume’ is ‘world class’ sound.

Blanchfield, 23, represents the modern athlete in mixed martial arts and enters this fight with great reputation and momentum. She’s eight years younger. She’ll also be the larger fighter as she’s three inches taller, will hold a five-inch reach advantage, and she’ll be the heavier, larger competitor in the cage when this five-round main event begins.

I believe that size is a major factor for Blanchfield in this fight, but it must be mentioned that Andrade almost always competes against larger opponents.

Blanchfield started BJJ at seven, then supplemented that skillset by incorporating kickboxing and grappling into her repertoire. Fighting professionally since 2018, Blanchfield is 10-1 and has won her last seven bouts.

Her task was sizable enough as she was originally scheduled to face number one ranked athlete Talia Santos. But now, with this very late insertion of third-ranked Andrade, her task becomes more difficult. Talia Santos was a step up in class for Blanchfield, but having to face with Andrade on short notice compounds the difficulty for Blanchfield exponentially.

I regard Blanchfield as a future champion in this division, but I wonder why the UFC has chosen to test her abilities this early in her development. This jump in class at this evolution of Blanchfield’s young career is an absolute test, but in my estimation, this test may be just a bit too soon.

I believe Blanchfield will show very well in this bout, but she’s in her first main event five-round fight, and Andrade has experienced many of these high-pressure situations. I’ll wait to release any position on the side until later in the week.

Total in this fight: 2.5 Over -110

Released on ‘First Strike’ and my ‘Bout Business Podcast Tuesday is the following Prop release, available at DraftKings: Fight starts Round 3 -140

Alex Hernandez -225 vs. Jim Miller 195

Lightweight (155 lbs) 

Hernandez has been the model of inconsistency, evidenced by his bouncing between a couple of divisions to find success. Back at Lightweight, he takes on a cagey veteran in Jim Miller, who has all the tools to beat the one-dimensional slugger.

At 39, Miller will be nine years older athlete than Hernandez. The southpaw will also be giving away slight size and reach advantages.

Hernandez, 2-4 in his last six, has desperation on his side as well as about six minutes of frenetic, high-power, explosive pressure, before he slows then eventually empties his tank with output.

Opponents that can weather those first minutes against Hernandez experience great results, so the foundational aspect to this bout is whether Miller has the guile, grit, determination and chin to be able to weather that early fury. If so, he must then transition the fight into the second/third round, where his experience and grappling may expose the vulnerable Hernandez.

I really like Jim Miller, but the fight total—lined 1.5 Rds. Over -145—has me vexed. Has Miller, who steps in on short notice, taken more fight in Hernandez than he can handle? Can he navigate this fight into the second round? Is Hernandez ready to compete back at lightweight after a short unsuccessful stint at Featherweight?

These are valid questions regarding this bout, because if Miller, who is long on experience and professional guile can see the second round, I believe he has a great opportunity to win this fight.

Pick: Monitoring

GambLou’s Bout Business Podcast drops Friday midday across all platforms. All my final releases may be accessed there. Tune up, then tune in! Thank you for reading!