Erin Blanchfield makes her UFC debut at UFC Vegas 37. Daniel Vreeland takes a look at what makes the debuting prospect stand out.

The Stats

NameErin “Cold Blooded” Blanchfield
FromElmwood Park, New Jersey
ClassFlyweight (125lbs)
Reach68 inches
Pro Record6-1
Last PromotionInvicta FC

The Lowdown

The reason for the UFC snatching up Blanchfield is quite simple – she’s only 22-years old and has one of the better jiu-jitsu backgrounds for a fighter of her age. In addition to working with her usual camp at MK Muay Thai in New Jersey, Blanchfield has spent time in the famed blue basement of Renzo Gracie in New York. She even repped Renzo’s on her rashguard when she fought in the Eddie Bravo Invitational 12 flyweight tournament. Not only did she bring her skills to EBI at only 18-years old, but she took on a star-studded field of black belts and other highly decorated grapplers. Then all she did was pick up 4 submissions and a shiny new belt. At the time she was only considered a purple belt, and barely that.

A lot of the pure jiu-jitsu crossovers sometimes have issues applying their trade to MMA when they make the switch. Even Mackenzie Dern had some issues with her takedowns and striking early on in her career. The beauty of Blanchfield’s development is that she started blending styles and working in MMA at a very young age. Shortly after her EBI 12 victory, she took an amateur MMA fight and scored an armbar in just 68 seconds. Plus, she did this against a 15-fight veteran. But it isn’t just her jiu-jitsu that shines in MMA, she also has very technical striking and more than a little power behind it. At Invicta 39, she knocked out current UFC flyweight Victoria Leonardo with a head kick, and a vicious one of that.

What to Expect Saturday

When Erin Blanchfield steps into the cage on Saturday, she’ll be a substantial favorite over Sarah Alpar. The books currently have her betting off right around -325, which shows just how bright of a prospect everybody knows she’ll be. It also shows just what a bad match-up she is for Alpar. In her previous fights, Alpar likes to use her pressure to clinch against the cage and look for takedowns. In both her Contender Series fight and her UFC debut, Alpar dragged her opponents to the mat and was able to get her best work done there. However, in those fights, she was notably outmatched on the feet.

The big issue with Alpar trying this against Blanchfield is that it plays directly into “Cold Blooded”‘s strengths. Alpar does not want to trade submission attempts on the ground with Blanchfield under any circumstances – even if she’s on top. Also, since striking is a relative weakness of Alpar, it means that Blanchfield should be able to focus on what she likes to do best, which is grapple. It also means that there is a decent chance that she has her own success when it comes to throwing hands, or feet for that matter.

Tale of the Tape

Erin BlanchfieldvsSarah Alpar
5′ 4Height (in)5′ 4
68Reach (in)63
Erin Blanchfield vs Sarah Alpar

What to Expect Long-Term

It’s difficult to forecast the career of someone who is only 22-years old. With two wins over UFC veterans already, and her lone loss being a split decision to Tracy Cortez, the skills are already there. As a result, it’s easy to say that the sky is the limit for Blanchfield. In order for her to reach that potential, I think an increased focus on her striking will be important. The team around her is solid and I expect her striking to begin to catch up to her grappling. At this stage of her career, it’s normal to have one of your dimensions be more well-defined than the others. It is, however, important not to fall too deeply in love with those skills.

If I’m asked to put a prediction on where she winds up, I would project Blanchfield as a future top 5 talent, with title shot potential if she sharpens the iron on the feet.

Daniel "Gumby" Vreeland has been an MMA writer for over a decade. He currently hosts The Top Turtle Podcast and is a member of the UFC's ranking panel.