There’s a lot going on at this weekend’s UFC event. Amid 14 fights are numerous prospects who will be making their first UFC walk. This week’s Octagon Oracles will look at three of those names, predicting how their future in the promotion may go.
Take a look at the crew’s takes on Erin Blanchfield, Brandon Jenkins and Mandy Bohm.
By Vince Rodemer
Erin Blanchfield is only 22 years old, and that makes her tough to grade as a prospect. I mainly like to look at three things when I look at prospects: Who have they fought, where do they train and who do they train with? Blanchfield has seven fights already and has fought three current UFC fighters in Victoria Leonardo (8-3), Kay Hansen (7-4) and Tracy Cortez (8-1). I view Hansen as a decent prospect and Cortez as a really good prospect, and she went to decision with both of them.
The problem in this fight for Blanchfield is the size. She is a flyweight. She beat Hansen, who is a strawweight and she fought Cortez at flyweight. If Blanchfield was taller and longer, I wouldn’t put as much stock in the weight. I think she is a far better prospect for the next several years if she is able to fight at flyweight and there is no reason to think she won’t. I see her as a top 10 flyweight.
Out Within 1-2 Years 50/50 Winner Bonus Winner A Mainstay Through the Years Top 15
Top 5 Title Contender Champion
By James Colwell
Brandon “The Human Highlight Reel” Jenkins is a kill-or-be-killed fighter who’s unlikely to ever make an impact on the UFC rankings but is almost guaranteed to be in an exciting fight whenever he steps into the cage. He’s a very creative striker who’s willing to throw everything to try to secure a finish, and he’s got solid wrestling as well, though that is rarely his weapon of choice. He’s been fighting professionally since 2013 and has bounced around all sorts of promotions in the American Midwest. He almost always fights opponents with winning records, so his own somewhat checkered record of 15-7 has to be looked at in the context of the quality competition he’s faced.
He’s been on a three-fight win streak coming into his UFC debut that includes a first-round knockout by spinning elbow against 9-5 Jordin Hinman, a decision over 7-2-1 Aaron Mitchell to win a title for Caged Aggression, and a first round knockout with a flying switch knee against recent UFC washout Jacob Kilburn just three weeks ago. That last win came in a spotlight bout for PFL, but evidently he has gone another path than fighting in the 2022 PFL season, as he’s made his way to the UFC as a last-minute replacement for Dakota Bush. He takes on Rongzhu, who was highly touted going into his own UFC debut but disappointed in a decision loss where he didn’t show enough urgency. Jenkins has a chance to win regardless of who he faces because all it takes is one of his fancy techniques to land cleanly, but I think Rongzhu has a clear advantage both with grappling and athletically. Jenkins could potentially stick in the UFC with some very careful matchmaking against other strikers, but I think his most likely outcome is a couple exciting, high-paced battles that end up in decisions or submissions for his opponents.
Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner Bonus Winner A Mainstay Through the Years Top 15 Top 10 Top 5 Title Contender Champion
By Jack Wannan
Mandy Bohm is entering the UFC with an eye-catching undefeated seven-fight record. After starting her career with five wins in German promotion GMC, she went international for a victory in Bellator and Canadian promotion TKO.
Bohm tends to be taller than her opponents and have a reach advantage. Sometimes it is more notable than others, but it’s quite often noticeable as she uses it well. While the 32-year-old isn’t afraid to get into the clinch and do damage, she often touches up opponents with her lead jab as well. Bohm’s tendencies in the clinch and at range were on display in her fight against Jade Masson-Wong in 2019. Not only that, but to show her skills don’t just end there, she took the fight down against Masson-Wong and ended it with a rear naked choke.
A concerning part of Bohm’s skillset is how she leaves herself open for shots. She seems to sometimes eat punches during exchanges. Her win last year against Griet Eeckhout showed that she will sometimes lower her arms – something that isn’t a huge crime when in a one-sided fight (which she was) but is still worth noting.
I’m not too worried about her grappling, as she has submissions on her record. However, I think the unknown here is how she will do against elite-level talent. She has looked great in her few MMA appearances, although they have come against fairly low-level fighters.
I think there’s a lot to like about Bohm, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she cracked the top 15 with her striking ability and well-rounded skill set.
Out Within 1-2 Years 50/50 Winner Bonus Winner A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 10 Top 5 Title Contender Champion