Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns later TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 18, 2023) to stage UFC Vegas 69 from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the event will be a reworked women’s Flyweight showdown between Jessica Andrade and Erin Blanchfield. In the co-main event, Light Heavyweight contenders Zac Pauga and Jordan Wright will collide in what is sure to be a hard-hitting affair.
A few weeks removed from her dominant win over Lauren Murphy at UFC 283 (recap here), Andrade opened the door when opportunity knocked, giving her the chance to score her third straight win. But, it won’t be an easy task because it’s coming against a red-hot Erin Blanchfield, who hasn’t tasted defeat since 2019, losing to Tracy Cortez under the Invicta FC banner. She is currently riding a seven-fight win streak and is coming off a one-sided beatdown over Molly McCann at UFC 281 (video here), a win that put her in the spotlight. Now, “Cold Blooded” is eyeing a spot in the Top 5 by taking out the the No. 2-ranked fighter in the division. Andrade is eyeing a title fight with a win, so it could very well go to Blanchfield if she pulls off the upset.
What intrigues me about this fight is that Blanchfield can keep up with Andrade’s pace. On that note, “Bate Estaca” can get a little overzealous at times, and that is when Blanchfield can (and will) capitalize. It’s an evenly-matched fight, one that could very well provide a title contender to face the winner of Valentina Shevchenko vs Alexa Grasso. Andrade has been to the top of the mountain and she wants nothing more than to experience that high again. Blanchfield, meanwhile, is hungry for her first taste of UFC gold, and winning this fight gets her that much closer.
The fight card doesn’t exactly stand out at you with big-name fighters since we have a ton of newcomers on this event, which we will talk about further down. There was a lot of movement since this card was announced that affected the intrigue of this event, so there’s that. Still, one more big fight could have upped the ante and earned ESPN+ a ton more viewers during a weekend that doesn’t have a whole lot going on in the combat world.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen were originally set to headline this event, but it was ultimately shifted to another Fight Night event later next month. As a result, Taila Santos and Erin Blanchfield were enlisted to headline the event. Last weekend, Santos withdrew from the fight for personal reasons and was replaced by Jessica Andrade. Also, A.J. Fletcher replaced Billy Goff in a Welterweight fight against Themba Gorimbo after Goff bowed out for undisclosed reasons.
Ramiz Brahimaj bowed out of his fight against Carlston Harris as a result of a neck injury. Harris was then booked to face Abubakar Nurmagomedov on March 11. Benoit Saint-Denis suffered an ankle injury that forced him out of his scheduled fight against Joe Solecki, who was then paired up against Carl Deaton III for UFC Vegas 70.
Undefeated (6-0), Clayton Carpenter will make his UFC debut against Juancamillo Ronderos, who failed to make a splash in his own debut with the promotion after losing to David Dvorak in May 2021. As for Carpenter, he earned his spot with an impressive win over Edgar Chairez on the Contender Series in Aug. 2022.
Gorimbo will also be taking his first step inside the Octagon after he agreed to step in to face Fletcher after Goff bowed out. He is 4-1 in his last five fights with two finishes during that span. “The Answer” is pretty well-rounded, but with six submissions on his resume he obviously prefers to take the fight to the ground.
Khusein Askhabov will bring his perfect (23-0) record to the Octagon when he makes his debut against Jamall Emmers, who is a sub-par 1-2 in his first three fights with the promotion. That said, Emmers can earn some favor with the promotion if he can manage to snap the 23-fight win streak Askhabov built up over a decade. During that streak, Askhabov has managed to stop 16 of his opponents.
Nazim Sadykhov is another Contender Series prospect who is looking to make a splash in his promotional debut against Even Elder, who threw up a dud in his first UFC fight against Preston Parsons. Sadykhov has five finishes in seven wins, so he knows how to get after it and get the job done in impressive manner. A similar showing in his UFC debut will surely get eyes on him in a hurry.
In Heavyweight action, Josh Parisian will welcome Jamal Pogues to the Octagon after earning a win on the Contender Series back in Aug. 2022. Pogues competed twice on the show to get his shot, but now that he is in he is out to make the most of it after a short stint with Bellator MMA. As for Parisian, he is looking to break his win/loss pattern inside the Octagon by earning his first two-fight win streak since joining UFC in 2020.
How The Prelims Look:
We’ve discussed several undercard fights already, so let’s dive in to break down the remaining bouts, shall we?
Ovince Saint Preux snapped his two-fight losing streak after scoring a split-decision win over Mauricio Rua in mid-2022 to pick up his second win over “Shogun.” Now, the former UFC Light Heavyweight interim title contender will look to earn his first set of back-to-back wins in six years when he goes toe-to-toe against Philipe Lins, who also snapped his two-fight skid by edging out Marcin Prachnio in his most-recent effort.
In women’s Bantamweight action, Mayra Bueno Silva will tango with Lina Lansberg. Silva is currently on her first-ever two-fight win streak with the promotion after edging out Yanan Wu and Stephanie Egger. Lina Lansberg, meanwhile, faces getting cut if she comes up short because it will be her fourth-straight defeat. She is just 4-6 in her UFC career, so it doesn’t give the promotion much reason to keep her around should she lose here.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Fletcher had a lot of hype after he scored a flying knee knockout on Contender Series, but his run so far inside the Octagon has been anything but impressive. In his first two outings he suffered back-to-back unanimous decision defeats, putting him in danger of getting his pink slip should he come up short against newcomer Themba Gorimbo.
Interest Level: 5/10
If I could put another person in the “who needs a win badly” column it would be Jordan Wright, who has been underwhelming thus far inside the Octagon, He came in undefeated at 10-0-1 and did win his debut, but has since gone 1-4 and has lost three straight. He will try to earn a new lease on his combat life when he battles Zac Pauga, who is coming off a loss to Mohammed Usman. Why this fight is the co-main event is beyond me, but the card isn’t that great to begin with, if we are being honest.
In a 205-pound banger, William Knight will face off against Marcin Prachnio. Both men are in desperate need of a win because Knight has lost two straight with his last win coming in Dec. 2021. Prachnio, meanwhile, had his two-fight win streak snapped by Philipe Lins almost one year ago, so a win would be a great motivator and confidence booster moving forward.
Alexander Hernandez agreed to step in to face Jim Miller in a pivotal Lightweight scrap after Gabriel Benitez withdrew for undisclosed reasons. Hernandez will be moving back up to 155 pounds after losing to Billy Quarantillo in a Featherweight fight this past December. Hernandez is currently on a two-fight losing streak while Miller is riding a three fight win streak into this fight, so I don’t like the pairing. Hernandez has a lot to win here, while Miller will be the one facing a man on a two-fight losing skid. I get that it was a last-minute replacement, but I would’ve liked to see someone who is winning get the nod.
Enjoy the fights!
Full UFC Vegas 69 Fight Card:
UFC Vegas 69 Main Event On ESPN+:
125 lbs.: Jessica Andrade vs. Erin Blanchfield
UFC Vegas 69 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Zac Pauga vs. Jordan Wright
265 lbs.: Josh Parisian vs. Jamal Pogues
205 lbs.: William Knight vs. Marcin Prachnio
155 lbs.: Alex Hernandez vs. Jim Miller
UFC Vegas 69 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Lina Lansberg
145 lbs.: Jamall Emmers vs. Khusein Askhabov
205 lbs.: Philipe Lins vs. Ovince Saint Preux
155 lbs.: Evan Elder vs. Nazim Sadykhov
170 lbs.: A.J. Fletcher vs. Themba Takura Gorimbo
125 lbs.: Clayton Carpenter vs. Juancamilo Ronderos
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 69 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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