The UFC women’s bantamweight title picture may be getting quite interesting now that former division queen Amanda Nunes decided to step away from the game. While the weight class has no title-holder for the time being, other athletes are taking the opportunity to make their cases for a shot at the vacant belt, even if they belong to other divisions.
Could women’s bantamweight use a fresh contender?
Such is the case of flyweight prospect Erin Blanchfield, who would not decline a crack at the vacant title should the opportunity present itself. In fact, ‘Cold Blooded’ believes a match against former champ Julianna Pena makes sense next for both athletes. In an interview with MMA Fighting, the 24-year-old claims the pairing would draw a lot of attention.
“I think that is something that’s super interesting. Julianna Pena is, I believe, the No. 1 contender right now, she’s the former champ. I think someone coming up from the flyweight division to fight her, I think would be super interesting.
“I think a lot of people are curious when I’m going to be fighting next. I don’t have anything lined up right now. I know she wants to fight and get her title back, but I feel like I’m one of the most interesting fights right now for that division and for that title. I think it would get a lot of eyes on it, and that’s something I’d definitely be interested in.”
Although Blanchfield fights at flyweight, she believes that part of the appeal of a fight between herself and Julianna Pena is exactly the novelty factor. Since the title picture hasn’t seen many new contenders at bantamweight, the 24-year-old feels like the weight class could use some fresh faces among its title challengers.
“I feel like in the bantamweight division those top five names, top 10 maybe are kind of like recycled names or people that have been around for a while,” Blanchfield said. “They’re very good girls, but they’ve been the same. Bantamweight hasn’t had as many prospects come up as the flyweight division has, and I think throwing my name in there and having me fight for a 135-pound title is definitely going to get a lot of eyes on it.”
Blanchfield believes she could finish the former champ
While Blanchfield is interested in facing Julianna Pena, the flyweight also confesses that she has never studied the former champ’s game too deeply. However, Cold Blooded is also confident she could finish the ‘Venezuelan Vixen’, since the 24-year-old believes that the potential opponent does not pose much of a threat expect for known toughness.
“I haven’t really studied her a ton yet but I feel like her best attribute is honestly she’s a very tough girl,” Blanchfield said about Peña. “She goes to fight. I know her first fight against Amanda she beat her but the second fight, she fought super hard even though she was kind of getting outclassed everywhere. She’s decent, she’s well-rounded.
“I don’t think there’s anything crazy about her style,” Blanchfield said. “I know Valentina fought her and she armbarred her a while ago. She’s a tough fighter but I don’t think there’s anything I would be too nervous about. I feel like I could go and finish that fight.”
Erin Blanchfield is undefeated in the UFC
Currently on a five-fight win streak in the UFC, Erin Blanchfield (11-1) has been gathering drawing some attention to her feats.
Though she started out with a couple of decision wins over Sarah Alpar and Miranda Maverick, the 24-year-old did finish her last three opponents by way of submission: JJ Aldrich, Molly McCann and former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade. Blanchfield’s sole loss remains a split decision to UFC veteran Tracy Cortez, in February 2019.
Meanwhile, Julianna Pena (11-5) lost the title in her most recent outing, when she dropped a unanimous decision to Amanda Nunes in their rematch, back in July 2022. One fight before that, the 33-year-old shocked the world when she beat the Brazilian via submission at UFC 269, in December 2021.
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