The UFC’s debut event in the Czech Republic features a headliner comprised of surging 205-pound contenders. With the light heavyweight title being defended only a week from this card, it is a great time for contenders to lay claim to the next shot.
Thiago Santos (ranked #6) battles Jan Blachowicz (ranked #4) in the headliner. Given that Anthony Smith (#3) will have his shot in a week, Alexander Gustafsson (#2) was just defeated in December, and Daniel Cormier (#1) is staying at heavyweight, this fight could have a lot on the line.
Santos looks focused as he marches to the cage – the commentators bringing up his win over #1 contender Anthony Smith at middleweight. With 8 first-round finishes, Santos is an exciting fighter who has the crowd waiting eagerly in anticipation.
Blachowicz looks focused as well, and now with his old team, he has one of the longest active winning streaks in the division.
The fighters touch gloves, and we’re off. Santos goes to his best weapon early, landing with a body kick. Blachowicz works to his own strengths, putting a jab in his foe’s face. Santos throws a front kick that misses, then blocks a return kick.
More kicks from Blachowicz land and some are returned. Santos remains patient, with neither fighter going for a takedown halfway through the first round. Santos with a nice low kick, but Blachowicz remains patient as well.
Santos feints a spinning kick then lands a crisp hook that Blachowicz takes well. Blachowicz catches a kick and tries to put Santos to the floor, nearly eating a hook as they break.
Both fighters are opening up a little more in the second round, but nothing significant has landed a minute in. Santos whiffs on a big overhand, and Blachowicz is maintaining the center of the cage. Nice kick lands for Blachowicz. The fighters trade jabs and things seem relatively even halfway through the round.
Nice punch exchange with a minute and a half left, but neither fighter appears damaged. In the final ten seconds, Santos launches a capoeira kick that just misses, followed by a punch that misses by even less.
The third round starts at about the same pace as the first two. But when Blachowicz comes charging forward with a combination, Santos catches him with a shot that drops him. Blachowicz is covering up, and while the flurry of follow-up strikes aren’t blasting him clean, the sequence is too one-sided for referee Herb Dean. Good stoppage that a replay which shows began with a right-left combination as Blachowicz was moving into the pocket.
With the stoppage victory, Santos is now comfortably building an impressive streak of victims. Will he be next in line to fight for the light heavyweight championship against the winner of UFC 235’s Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith?
The UFC’s debut in the Czech Republic ends with a bang and a big finish to send fans home happy.