UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz vs. Santos Preview

UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz vs. Santos Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Prague, Czech Republic.

Updated: Feb. 21, 2019 • 10:12 PM ET

Jan Blachowicz is looking to get one step closer to a title shot.

The O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic will host UFC Fight Night this Saturday with a main event featuring a light heavyweight bout with possible title implications between two highly ranked veterans. No. 4 ranked light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz will take on No. 6 Thiago Santos with the winner of the fight making a legitimate case to be the next challenger for the light heavyweight title.

Blachowicz is riding a four-fight winning streak, last defeating Nikita Krylov by second-round submission in September in Moscow. Prior to the win against Krylov, Blachowicz avenged a loss to Jimi Manuwa, defeated ranked middleweight contender Jared Cannonier and submitted Devin Clark.

The winning streak couldn’t have come at a better time, as Blachowicz was 1-4 in his five previous fights. Although he had trouble winning, his losses came to Patrick Cummins, Alexander Gustafsson, Corey Anderson and Manuwa, some of the top contenders in the light heavyweight division.

The 35-year-old Blachowicz went 17-3 in the European circuits and was the KSW (Polish) light heavyweight champion before signing with the UFC. The Polish fighter made a successful UFC debut against the always dangerous Ilir Latifi in 2014, defeating him by first-round TKO with a devastating body kick.

Despite the inconsistency, Blachowicz (6-4 in UFC) has clearly hit his stride in his last four fights. A win over a dangerous and hard-hitting fighter like Santos would solidify his top five ranking.

Santos, who made his UFC debut in 2013, will compete at light heavyweight for the third time on Saturday. He won his first two bouts in the weight class against Eryk Anders (TKO) and Manuwa (KO), the latter being one of the best fights of 2018 at UFC 231. Overall, Santos has won his last three fights since losing to David Branch by knockout at middleweight in April.

Aside the wins over Anders and Manuwa, the 35-year-old Santos has key victories over Elias Theodorou, Nate Marquardt and Anthony Smith. Smith will challenge light heavyweight champion Jon Jones for his title at UFC 235 in March.

Santos believes a win over Blachowicz could put him next in line to challenge the winner of Jones vs. Smith for the title.

“After beating Blachowicz, I want to fight for the belt against the winner of Anthony Smith and Jon Jones,” Santos said via MMAjunkie.

 

Co-main event

A heavyweight fight between No. 15 Stefan Struve and Marcos Rogerio de Lima will also be on the card.

Struve (28-11, 12-9 in UFC) made his UFC debut in 2009 and has fought some of the best in the heavyweight division, including Junior Dos Santos, Travis Browne, Roy Nelson, Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem. Those top fighters also include wins over former champion Stipe Miocic, Antonio Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. This weekend, though, the 31-year-old Dutchman will try to rebound from three straight losses to Marcin Tybura, Andrei Arlovski and Alexander Volkov.

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Rogerio de Lima is 5-3 in the UFC and coming off a unanimous decision win over Adam Wieczorek at UFC 230 in November. It was the first Rogerio de Lima fight that has gone to a decision since 2013, as all five of his UFC wins and all three of his losses have come by finish.

It’s hard to imagine this fight going the distance, as Struve has been finished in eight of his 11 losses. The 33-year-old Brazilian will compete in his second straight heavyweight fight after a stint at light heavyweight, during which he had trouble making the 206-pound limit.

 

The rest of the main card

Light heavyweight bout - Gian Villante vs. Michał Oleksiejczuk

Women's flyweight bout - No. 6 Liz Carmouche vs. No. 14 Lucie Pudilová

Bantamweight bout - No. 9 John Dodson vs. No. 14 Petr Yan

Light heavyweight bout - Magomed Ankalaev  vs. Klidson Abreu

 

ESPN 2 Prelims

Welterweight bout - Carlo Pedersoli Jr. vs. Dwight Grant

Featherweight bout - Daniel Teymur vs. Chris Fishgold

Women's flyweight bout - Veronica Macedo vs. Gillian Robertson

Lightweight bout - Damir Hadžović vs. Marco Polo Reyes

Welterweight bout - Michel Prazeres vs. Ismail Naurdiev

Lightweight bout - Rustam Khabilov vs. Diego Ferreira

Lightweight bout - Damir Ismagulov vs. Joel Alvarez

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