UFC Rio Rancho: Anderson vs. Blachowicz Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Rio Rancho, N.M.
Updated: Feb. 13, 2020 • 1:01 PM ET
Jan Blachowicz is looking to avenge a previous loss against Corey Anderson.
A light heavyweight fight with title implications will headline the UFC’s return to New Mexico this Saturday (first time since 2014), as No. 5 ranked Corey Anderson will face No. 6 Jan Blachowicz in a rematch from 2015, which Anderson won by unanimous decision.
Coming off a dynamite first-round TKO upset victory over hyped prospect Johnny Walker at UFC 244, Anderson (13-4, 10-4 in UFC) has won four straight fights. After the victory over Walker, fans saw a side of Anderson they had never seen before, as he taunted Walker and his corner. After the fight, Anderson took to twitter to apologize for his outburst.
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Regardless of the outburst, Anderson’s victory over Walker was the biggest of his career. Including Walker and Blachowicz, he has collected key victories over Patrick Cummins, Glover Teixeira and Ilir Latifi.
Fighting in the UFC since 2014, Anderson could be one win away from challenging for the light heavyweight title. The 30-year-old is convinced he’s deserving of a title shot if he wins on Saturday.
“This should be it,” Anderson said via the Albuquerque Journal. “I wouldn’t even take another (non-title) fight if I win this one. There’d be no point. I think I deserve it, earned it.”
The Illinois native believes he has improved since his first fight with Blachowicz.
“I’ve been developing and fighting better guys, tougher guys, more proven guys, a guy (Glover Teixeira) that already fought for the title, and I’ve beaten those guys,” Anderson said. “I think (Blachowicz) should be worried about my confidence going into this fight. You see what I did to him the first fight, coming off my first loss ever (to Gian Villante), just three fights into the UFC.
“Now it’s my 15th (UFC) fight, and I’ve beaten the guys I have. It’s kind of scary, thinking about what I did.”
Blachowicz (25-8, 8-5 in UFC) has won six of his last seven fights and two straight over former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and most recently over Jacare Souza in November. The Polish fighter has key victories over Nikita Krylov, Jimi Manuwa, Jared Cannonier and Latifi.
Like Anderson, the 36-year-old Blachowicz also believes he has improved since their first fight.
“I’m much better now than the first time I fought him,” Blachowicz told BJPENN.com. “He got me at a good time when we fought first. I’ve proven that I’m a better fighter, and I can’t wait to show it.
“I’m much better at wrestling and grappling. When someone takes me down, I know what to do to get up. Even if Anderson takes me down, I’ll be back on my feet. He has to be ready for that.”
Blachowicz knows Anderson proved he could strike in his last fight, but still believes he’s the better striker.
“Every fight starts standing and his striking has gotten better,” Blachowicz said. “He knocked out Walker, so I think he has started to believe in his boxing, so maybe he will be able to stand. But, I think after three or four minutes and after I hit him, he will start to be a wrestler again.
“I expect that, but I am ready for it.”
Saturday’s co-main event will be a welterweight fight between veteran Diego Sanchez and Michel Pereira.
Sanchez (29-12, 18-12 UFC) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Michael Chiesa at UFC 239 in July, which snapped a two-fight winning streak. The 38-year-old is a future Hall of Famer, has fought in the UFC since 2005 and was the TUF season 1 welterweight winner over Kenny Florian.
Sanchez has fought some of the best fighters in the UFC with notable victories over Nick Diaz, Karo Parisyan, Joe Riggs, Joe Stevenson, Clay Guida, Martin Kampmann, Takanori Gomi and Jim Miller. His fight with Guida was entered into the UFC Hall of Fame in July, and he has won Fight of the Night honors seven times. The New Mexico native gained his popularity by getting into slugfests, and fans in his home state should expect nothing less on Saturday.
Pereira will try to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to Tristan Connelly in September. He entered the UFC last May with a ton of internet buzz, due to his sometimes over the top striking style.
Pereira lived up to the hype in his debut against Danny Roberts, scoring a first-round TKO. His style wasn’t a good match for the grappling skills of Connelly, but the 26-year-old Brazilian should match up well with Sanchez if the fight stays on the feet.
The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. EST
Women’s flyweight bout - No. 12 Montana De La Rosa vs. No. 13 Mara Romero Borella
Lightweight bout - Brok Weaver vs. Kazula Vargas
Flyweight bout - No. 7 Rogerio Bontorin vs. Ray Borg
Lightweight bout - Lando Vannata vs. Yancy Medeiros
ESPN+ Prelims at 5 p.m. EST
Welterweight bout - Tim Means vs. Daniel Rodriguez
Bantamweight bout - No. 13 John Dodson vs. Nathaniel Wood
Lightweight bout - Jim Miller vs. Scott Holtzman
Light heavyweight bout - Devin Clark vs. Dequan Townsend
Bantamweight bout - No. 15 Casey Kenney vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Women’s bantamweight bout - No. 12 Macy Chiasson vs. No. 14 Nicco Montano
Flyweight bout - No. 13 Mark De La Rosa vs. No. 14 Raulian Paiva