Taila Santos has only ever lost two fights and both defeats came by way of split decision. It sounds like she is still extremely bitter about the most recent which came at the hands of Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 275.

A year later Santos returns to the Singapore Indoor Stadium to take on Erin Blanchfield. But she is still bitter about what happened in this venue last year,

“After the fight against Valentina, I did reach out to her several times through social media but she was running away, she didn’t answer me, she was busy fighting other opponents. If it was up to me, I would have fought her again but she was running away.”

Santos did not get her rematch with Shevchenko. Instead the title shot went to Alexa Grasso who claimed the UFC flyweight title with a shock submission win.

She thinks that Grasso worked out how to beat Shevchenko by watching her fight,

“I think Grasso, she studied my strategy that I used and found out the weak points (of Shevchenko).”


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Big rematch

Shevchenko and Grasso are rematching at the T-Mobile Arena next month. While Santos feels she should be challenging for the belt herself she will settle for a fight against the winner,

“By winning this fight, I would like to get the title shot and fight the winner of Valentina and Grasso in Sao Paulo.”

She clearly wants to rematch Shevchenko and it sounds like she is hoping the former champion can recapture her crown,

“I don’t have a preference to win that fight but for me personally I would like to fight against Valentina again. It will be very interesting to meet up again, against Valentina.”


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Unfinished business 

Santos is excited to be back in Singapore because she sees it as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean after the disappointment of her last result there,

“I’m very happy to be back in Singapore. In fact, yes, there is a lot of unfinished business.”

Blanchfield is six years younger than Santos, ranked one spot higher and has won her last eight. She is an up and coming prospect but the Brazilian is relishing the prospect of derailing this particular hype train,

“I’m very excited about this (fight) because a lot of people talk like she’s an upcoming ‘promise’ but if she’s a promise, I’m a reality so I’m very excited about this.”

While the American is primarily a grappler she comes from a striking background but Santos thinks she will be able to compete wherever the fight goes,

“She is good in the ground. My background is in Muay Thai. I feel very comfortable doing exchanging blows but I’m also very good on the ground so I confident in myself too.”


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Vast experience 

Santos has been a professional for a decade and feels her experience will be key,

“She’s young but I have another five years of experience. And what’s also important is intelligence, like emotional intelligence. I know how to regulate my emotions and my anxiety in the ring.”

Blanchfield is currently #3 while Santos is #4 in the flyweight rankings. But the Brazilian thinks that her opponent has been given an easy ride by the UFC matchmakers,

”Erin is an up and coming fighter but I believe that they put the cart in front of the horse because she has not fought well-known (or) even the top five people.”

The fight has been six months in the making because Santos could not secure a visa in time for UFC Vegas 69. Blanchfield beat former bantamweight champion Jessica Andrade that night to leapfrog her in the rankings.

It means Santos has had nearly a year to reflect on the split decision loss to Shevchenko. Whatever happens this weekend she is determined not to leave it in the hands of the judges,

“I’m not leaving the decision up to the judges. Every time that I come I’ll be a new Taila. I’m stronger mentally.”