Erin Blanchfield got off to a shaky start against Taila Santos today at UFC Fight Night 225, but was able to embrace the grind and battle her way to a unanimous decision victory.
Calf kick for Santos and Blanchfield lands one to the inside of the leg. Another low kick for Santos. Now a punch for Santos and another leg kick for good measure.
Blanchfield trying to clinch up, but Santos strikes her way back out. Slightly awkward body kick from Blanchfield and Santos fires back.
Jab for Santos. Blanchfield tries to press forward with a flurry, but Santos knocks her off her feet with a low kick.
Blanchfield trying to force her way forward but keeps eating strikes and now is bleeding around the nose. Undeterred, Blanchfield charges forward again and this time does punch her way into the clinch and lets more strikes go as she attempts to get some payback.
Blanchfield stays in the clinch and is working hard, but a few elbows from Santos backs her off. Really nicely timed knee to the body from Santos as Blanchfield was coming forward.
Blanchfield in on a takedown, but Santos does well to stuff it and get back to her feet. Punch lands for Blanchfield but eats a heavier one in response from Santos.
Calf kick for Santos and a counter-jab lands for Blanchfield. Blanchfield with a body kick. Right hook for Santos as Blanchfield clinches up. They jockey for position against the cage now and Blanchfield is able to keep control of the clinch for now. She lands a couple of knees to the body and then Santos reverses her just as the round ends.
Inside leg kick for Blanchfield. Outside one from Santos. One-two from Santos. Blanchfield tries to clinch up but is pushed away.
Santos back to punishing Blanchfield with punches when she tries to close the distance. A leg kick knocks Blanchfield off-balance for a moment.
Blanchfield is doggedly determined and drives back into the clinch and goes for a takedown, but Santos pops right back up. Blanchfield still in the clinch though. A few light knees from Blanchfield in here. Santos manages to get an elbow off. Blanchfield tries to go for a trip, but Santos stays upright.
Now Santos gets underhooks and tries for a trip of her own, but it doesn’t work out and ends up falling to her back with Blanchfield on top. Santos shifting onto one hip underneath and trying to get to the back without success. Blanchfield passes guard and Santos rolls to her knees. She’s turtled up with Blanchfield staying tight to her. Santos able to stand again though.
Blanchfield remains in the clinch and tries for a takedown that doesn’t work out. Final 10 seconds of the round and they break apart. Almost a clash of heads there as Blanchfield swiftly closes the distance into the clinch again.
They get the final round off to a fast start exchanging strikes. Blanchfield aggressive and battles into the clinch, but Santos soon fights her off.
Leg kick from Santos. Jabs exchanged. Knee to the body from Santos. Blanchfield with a punch and then into the clinch against the cage trying for a takedown. Knee to the leg from Blanchfield and a punch as she opts to back out, only to then go straight back into the clinch.
Blanchfield working hard to try to grind out a win here. Santos able to push here away though and lands a few kicks to the legs. Blanchfield back into a takedown attempt against the cage, but Santos prevents it.
Santos briefly able to reverse the clinch, but then staggers forward and loses the advantage. Back to her feet they return to striking range. Blanchfield with a jab and a leg kick. Now a one-two from her. leg kick for Santos. Blanchfield clinches against the cage.
Blanchfield backs up for a split-second then straight back in with a takedown attempt that catches Santos off-guard for a moment, though she pops straight back up. She’s still stuck in the clinch though and only 30 seconds remaining.
Back to striking range. Both swing and miss with punches. Tired looking punches being thrown by Santos now, lacking the power and precision of her earlier work. Head kick attempt from Blanchfield. Good strike lands for Blanchfield before the final bell.
Santos had a big advantage in the striking department in the opening round and also showed good takedown defense throughout the fight, but Blanchfield showed her grit and determination to battle her way into the fight with clinch work and better cardio to win the final two rounds and take home a unanimous decision victory (29-28 x3).