This weekend, the UFC will return to UFC Apex in Las Vegas with a top fight in the women’s flyweight division! In the main event at UFC Vegas 69, we’ll see former UFC champion Jessica Andrade step in to replace Taila Santos. Andrade takes the main event on short notice, taking on ten-ranked 23-year-old grappling talent Erin Blanchfield. Andrade will build on her winning streak of three dominant performances against Cynthia Calvillo, Amanda Lemos and, most recently, Lauren Murphy.
This weekend’s card was originally going to feature headliners Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Vera, but the meeting was moved to the end of March. Gerald Meerschaert and Abusupiyan Magomedov were also supposed to match this weekend, but Magomedov ran into visa problems. As a result, a women’s flyweight bout between former UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship challenger Taila Santos and Erin Blanchfield was promoted to main event status. However, just one week after the event, Santos withdrew for personal reasons and was replaced by former UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Jéssica Andrade.
MAIN EVENT IN INCREASINGLY EXCITING DIVISION
We saw the fierce Jessica Andrade just under four weeks ago when she crushed Lauren Murphy to the point that viewers cringed in discomfort. Before that, Andrade offered first-round finishes to Cynthia Calvillo and Amanda Lemos. This time, however, her opponent is no pushover on the ground.
Erin Blanchfield is relatively new to the UFC but has established the hype by defeating Sarah Alpar, Miranda Maverick, JJ Aldrich and most recently, a quick kimura against Meatball Molly. Blanchfield is 23 years old but has been training BJJ since the age of seven and became the Eddie Bravo Invitational champion at just 18 years old. A strong performance means candidacy for the next title opportunity.
A lot is going on in the flyweight division. Ranked fighters started to smell blood after Talia Santos came close to taking the belt from Valentina Shevchenko, who has been enthroned atop the flyweight division since 2018. In early March, Shevchenko will defend the belt against Alexa Grasso.
OLD FOX FED TO YOUNGSTER
Tonight’s co-main is a heavyweight clash between TUF finalist Zac Pauga and Jordan Wright, who will be looking to salvage his career after being finished three times in a row. There are generally a lot of heavy hitters on the main card; spectacular finishes are a low-odds bet.
Faithful UFC viewers get a treat when the main card begins. For the 41st time (!), Jim Miller will step into the UFC octagon. He was booked against Gabriel Benitez but will be replaced by Alexander Hernandez, who returns to the lightweight division. Good old Miller turns 40 this year; he has the most fights AND most wins in the UFC but shows no signs of slowing down. Lately, Miller has managed to string together three second-round finishes: Erick Gonzalez, Nikolas Motta, and Donald ”Cowboy” Cerrone. Alexander Hernandez debuted with lightning and thunder in 2018; he was predicted to be the star of tomorrow until Cowboy Cerrone proved that with age comes badassery – since then, Hernandez has won and lost in turn and has now been finished twice in a row. Hernandez is the favourite, but whether his Achilles heel is old goats like Cerrone and Miller, we’ll see this weekend.
ELBOW QUEEN IS BACK FOR BLOOD
2019 was a strong year for Lina Länsberg, who defeated Tonya Evinger and Macy Chiasson via decision. Since then, she has slipped in three straight decision losses to Sara McMann, Pannie Kianzad and most recently, Karol Rosa in October.
Mayra Bueno Silva made her UFC debut in 2018 and has had four wins, two losses and one draw in UFC. Now she wants to keep climbing after securing two wins last year: first a tough fight against Yanan Wu, for which they received a match bonus, and then a quick submission of judoka Stephanie Egger.
Länsberg will have to be wary of Bueno Silva’s grappling, with five of the Brazilian’s nine pro wins coming via armbar. The way to win will be to try to keep the fight standing – if Mayra Bueno Silva is digging for takedowns, it would be beautiful to see Länsberg use her Thai boxing background and deliver well-placed elbows and knees.
If Lina Länsberg suffers another loss, it would be the fourth in a row, which could spell the end of her UFC career. Holly Holm, Jessica Penne, and Lina Länsberg are currently the only female 40-somethings in the UFC.
MAIN CARD (1:00 AM CET)
Flyweight – Jessica Andrade vs Erin Blanchfield
Light heavyweight – Jordan Wright vs Zac Pauga
Heavyweight – Josh Parisian vs Jamal Pogues
Light heavyweight – William Knight vs Marcin Prachnio
Lightweight – Jim Miller vs Alexander Hernandez
PRELIMINARY CARD (10:00 PM CET)
Lightweight – Nazim Sadykhov vs Evan Elder
Bantamweight – Lina Länsberg vs Mayra Bueno Silva
Featherweight – Jamall Emmers vs Khusein Askhabov
Light heavyweight – Ovince Saint Preux vs Philipe Lins
Welterweight -AJ Fletcher vs Themba Gorimbo
Flyweight – Clayton Carpenter vs Juancamilo Ronderos