Tag: junior dos santos

RESULTS | UFC 252 – Miocic seals status as the heavyweight GOAT

STIPE Miocic confirmed his status as the consensus UFC heavyweight GOAT, after edging Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision in their epic trilogy decider at UFC 252. The Ohio native (20-3), who fought in his seventh-straight UFC title bout now has four successful defences to his name, and improves his ledger against Cormier to 2-1.

Having battled Miocic three-consecutive times, ‘DC’ conceded that this may be the end of his legendary career, with another championship opportunity unlikely to present. Two of his three professional losses have come at the hands of Miocic, with the third part of the former double-champs’ other famous rivalry with Jon Jones.

The ‘and still’ champion was made to endure a raft of sneaky right-hand punches from Cormier throughout, but managed to remain upright through all of his adversary’s power while landing some heavy boxing combinations of his own. After being stunned at the end of Round 1, Miocic got his own back in the closing stages of Round 2, with a significant eye poke closing up Cormier’s left side in the third.

While Cormier looked to push the pace across the championship rounds, he was controlled well by the bigger man, Miocic in clinch engagements, which proved vital in nullifying the Olympian’s wrestling. Almost every five-minute period was as tight as they come, though Miocic’s diversity of strikes and control of position ultimately earned him the nod.

What’s next? It has to be number one contender, Francis Ngannou. Although, light heavyweight champion, Jones has also put his hat in the ring for a potential move up to heavyweight.


Jairzinho Rozenstruik could also be back on track for a shot at the heavyweight strap, after dispatching of former champion, Junior dos Santos in Round 2. ‘Bigi Boy’ was patient and respectful in his approach, but only required one clean combination to change the course of the fight.

The Suriname native swarmed on his seasoned opponent after dropping him with an uppercut and right hook, allowing him no time to recover as the referee duly stepped in. That’s now three-straight losses for ‘JDS’, while Rozenstruik (11-1) gains redemption for his punishing defeat to Ngannou in May.

The co-main event produced another banger, albeit if one of the competitors seemed to come away seriously compromised. Sean O’Malley was transported to hospital after potentially re-aggravating an old leg injury, which saw him stumble a couple of times during his fateful fight with Marlon Vera.

A clear underdog coming into the bout, Vera required just under five minutes to get the job done via TKO, pouncing on his flailing opponent and ending the show with some brutal elbows from top position. It remains unknown as to what exactly caused O’Malley’s leg to fail, as he was seen rolling his right ankle in the early stages. Despite that, the Ecuadorian pointed to his checking of O’Malley’s low kicks when queried in the post-fight interview.

Daniel Pineda was another to impress on the main card, halting the hype train of Herbert Burns with a second-round TKO victory. After six years out of the UFC octagon, Pineda made good on his return with an impressive performance on the mat against a renowned grappler. He ended the bout with some punishing elbows from the crucifix position, having proven much more active from top position than Burns.



Stipe Miocic [C] Daniel Cormier [1] | Decision (unanimous) 49-46, 49-46, 48-47
Marlon Vera def. Sean O’Malley [14] | TKO (elbows) 4:40 Rd 1
Jairzinho Rozenstruik [6] def. Junior dos Santos [5] | TKO (punches) 3:47 Rd 2
Daniel Pineda def. Herbert Burns | TKO (elbows) 4:37 Rd 2
Merab Dvalishvili [15] def. John Dodson [12] | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27


Vinc Pichel def. Jim Miller | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-27
Virna Jandiroba def. Felice Herrig [15] | Submission (armbar) 1:44 Rd 1
Daniel Chavez def. TJ Brown | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
Livia Renata Souza def. Ashley Yoder | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 30-27


Chris Daukaus def. Parker Porter | TKO (punches and knee) 1:28 Rd 1
Kai Kamaka III def. Tony Kelley | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28


UFC Rankings update: May-June 2020

THE UFC has resumed full-time operations and with it comes the ever-changing rankings landscape. Four events have gone down since the promotion’s emphatic return at UFC 249 on May 9, with the only belt to change hands that of the interim lightweight strap belonging to Justin Gaethje. Among the big winners have been Gilbert Burns, Glover Teixeira, and Alistair Overeem, while their opponents all suffered drops down the rankings. The full, updated UFC rankings can be found here, and pound-for-pound list, here with changes soon to come after the weekend’s event.

HEAVYWEIGHT (206-265lbs)

Augusto Sakai ⬆️ [10]
Blagoy Ivanov ⬇️ [15]

Sakai’s co-main event decision victory over Ivanov saw him jump three places into 10th spot, while the Bulgarian slid the same amount to number 15 as the last of the ranked heavyweights. A random shuffle saw former champion Junior dos Santos move down to fifth, leaving Derrick Lewis clear in the number four spot. Those ranked 11-14 also moved around the two active men, with the MMA community now eagerly awaiting a trilogy fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier at the top.


Gilbert Burns ⬆️ [1]
Tyron Woodley ⬇️ [4]

The big story to come out of the welterweight division was Burns’ rise to number one contendership, leapfrogging his opponent in former champion, Woodley, and the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, and Leon Edwards. The Brazilian earned a title shot against Kamaru Usman with his dominant decision victory, and it remains to be seen whether Conor McGregor, who swapped places with Anthony Pettis down to number 15, will be removed upon his shock retirement.


Justin Gaethje ⬆️ [IC]
Beneil Dariush ⬆️ [14]
Drew Dober ⬆️ [15]

The big risers at 155 pounds were Darisuh and Dober, who each earned berths in the rankings of late. Most recently, Dober’s eye-catching TKO of former ranked lightweight Alex Hernandez earned him a spot, while stretching his win streak out to three. Random shuffles saw the aforementioned pair land at 14 and 15 respectively, while Donald Cerrone swapped places with Islam Makhachev to move to 12th, and the McGregor situation makes for some confusion at the top. Of course, Gaethje earned a title unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov after defeating perennial contender, Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.


Calvin Kattar ⬆️ [6]
Dan Ige ⬆️ [11]
Arnold Allen ⬇️ [12]

A couple of rising prospects made the most significant leaps at featherweight, with Kattar moving to number six after defeating Jeremy Stephens at a 150-pound catchweight, while Ige continued his impressive run by defeating former lightweight contender, Edson Barboza via split decision. Allen, whose last fight was in January, was level with Ige in 11th spot, but moved one down to 12th in a random restructuring. A rematch between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway has also been marked for UFC 251.


There will soon be some division-defining movement at 135-pounds, with three massive bantamweight fights going down on the UFC 250 main card. Number two ranked Aljamain Sterling made yet another claim for his long-awaited title shot by submitting Cory Sandhagen in quick time, but it seems Jose Aldo [6] and Petr Yan [3] will scrap for the vacant belt. Former champ Cody Garbrandt [9] got back to winning ways with a massive knockout of veteran contender Raphael Assuncao [5], while Sean O’Malley pushed his case for a ranking with his own statement KO on the same night.

FLYWEIGHT (125lbs)

Brandon Royval ⬆️ [11]
Tim Elliott ⬇️ [12]
Mark De La Rosa ⬇️ [NR]

Royval is the new prospect on the block, debuting at number 11 in the flyweight rankings after defeating former title challenger, Elliott in a fight of the night scrap on the Woodley vs. Burns undercard. Numbers 12-15, including Elliott were shuffled down, with De La Rosa pushed out of his number 15 spot and thus, the rankings altogether. Alex Perez [9] will also be a big mover having defeated Jussier Formiga [4] on the latest card, with Joseph Benevidez and Deiveson Figueiredo set to rematch for the vacant title.


Francis Ngannou ⬆️ [14]
Dominick Reyes ⬆️ [15]
Tyron Woodley ⬇️ [NR]
Henry Cejudo ⬇️ [NR]


Nina Ansaroff ⬇️ [15]


There has been no movement in any of the women’s divisions, but that may be soon about to change as flyweights Jessica Eye [1] and Cynthia Calvillo [10 SW] headline the promotion’s upcoming Fight Night. Amanda Nunes of course successfully defender her featherweight belt against Felicia Spencer in the latest PPV event, while number two flyweight Katlyn Chookagian dismantled Antonina Shevchenko [12] in their bout, and Angela Hill was denied a berth in the rankings after losing a tight decision to Claudia Gadelha. Carla Esparza and Sijara Eubanks were other ranked winners, and Mackenzie Dern may find herself among the strawweight numbers after submitting Hannah Cifers in quick time.

UFC Rankings update: January 2020

WITH two memorable pay-per-view cards marking the end of 2019 and start of the new year respectively, there have been plenty of movers and sliders in the Official UFC Rankings. A raft of up-and-comers have staked their claims for top-10 status, while others have found homes in new divisions, with the promotion also introducing a new pound-for-pound system which splits the men’s and women’s rankings. The full, updated list of UFC rankings can be found here, and the new pound-for-pound format, here.


Derrick Lewis -1 [6]

There was plenty of potential for movement among the heavyweights as two top-fivers went to war in the UFC Raleigh main event, but both Curtis Blaydes [3] and Junior dos Santos [4] maintain their spots after the American’s TKO victory. Derrick Lewis, who is set to face the unranked Illir Latifi at UFC 247, has now been officially moved down to number six after previously being ranked equal-fifth alongside Jairzinho Rozenstruik. With the title picture remaining murky, this could be a division to watch in 2020 despite early stalling.


Volkan Oezdemir +1 [7]
Alexander Gustafsson -1 [8]

A rather uneventful month for the light heavyweights, but that could soon all change as Jon Jones takes on Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 for the world title. Latifi could move out of the rankings upon his heavyweight debut on the same card, while Corey Anderson [5] fights Jan Blachowicz [6] in a possible title eliminator, and former title challenger Anthony Smith [3] makes his return against veteran Glover Teixeira [9]. The only change comes as Volkan Oezdemir swaps places with the questionably retired Alexander Gustafsson to slot into rank number seven.


Omari Akhmedov +1 [12]
Ian Heinisch -1 [13]

Another division with seemingly not much happening over the last month, but plenty to occur over the next few. The only ranking change sees Omari Akhmedov [12] swap places with Ian Heinisch [13] after defeating the American in their December bout, but all eyes will be on shuffling at the top end. Champion Israel Adesanya gets his wish in a match-up with former challenger Yoel Romero at UFC 248, while Derek Brunson [8] will look to shake the gatekeeper tag when he meets undefeated prospect Edmen Shahbazyan [9] on the same card. Former champion Robert Whittaker has left Jared Cannonier [4] without an opponent on the night, with potential fill-in, Darren Till [5] remaining on the sidelines alongside worthy number one contender, Paulo Costa. Plenty to play out here, it should be a big year at 185lbs.


Michael Chiesa NR [7]
Rafael dos Anjos -3 [8]
Anthony Pettis -2 [13]
Conor McGregor NR [15]
Neil Magny NR

Division-shifters defined much of the movement at 170lbs, with Conor McGregor‘s statement-making return helping him debut at number 14 in the welterweight rankings, since moving down to 15 with Neil Magny omitted. Another to do so was Michael Chiesa, who beat-out perennial contender and fellow former lightweight Rafael dos Anjos via decision to slot in at number seven. ‘RDA’ slid down three spots to be eighth-ranked, while Anthony Pettis – another former 155lbs champion – moved down two spots following his loss at UFC 246. The top of the tree is set to shake as Jorge Masvidal [3] jockeys for a fight against champion Kamaru Usman, while Tyron Woodley [1] and Leon Edwards [4] are set to meet in London for a bout which could decide the next number one contender.


Justin Gaethje -1 [4]
Diego Ferreira NR [11]
Anthony Pettis NR

It took a sixth-consecutive win, but Diego Ferreira finally cracked the lightweight rankings with his well-constructed submission victory over former champion, Anthony Pettis. The impressive performance puts him in at number 11, while also seeing Pettis removed from the rankings altogether. A touch further up the order, and Conor McGregor has taken sole ownership of the number three spot after formerly sharing it with Justin Gaethje, with the two likely to face each other next for the number one contender spot. Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is booked to finally face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, while Paul Felder [6] and Dan Hooker [7] make up another lightweight main event in their Auckland fight night headliner, and Kevin Lee [8] takes on the dangerous Charles Oliveira [13].


Calvin Kattar +1 [10]
Jose Aldo -2 [11]
Sodiq Yusuff NR [14]
Arnold Allen NR [15]
Mirsad Bektic NR

A couple of exciting contenders have fought their way into the featherweight rankings, with ‘Super’ Sodiq Yusuff and Arnold Allen respectively taking up the last two spots after impressive decision wins this month. While Contender Series alum Yusuff debuts at number 14, Allen’s return to the 15th spot sees Mirsad Bektic lose his ranked status. Elsewhere, some shuffling sees Calvin Kattar move up into tenth spot, while former champion Jose Aldo slides to number 11 as he pushes for a bantamweight title shot despite losing via decision in his last bout. There may not be much movement at the top with injuries impacting almost all of the top five, including the champion, but there are obvious match-ups to make in time.


Jose Aldo +1 [7]
Jimmie Rivera -1 [8]
Song Yadong +1 [12]
John Dodson -1 [13]

It has been a rather subdued month or two among the ranked bantamweights, with only a couple of minor shuffles helping to better set the scene for likely future bouts. Former featherweight champion Jose Aldo looks poised to be next in line for a bantamweight title shot with Henry Cejudo also pushing for the bout to go ahead. Thus, Aldo moves up to number seven and pushes Jimmie Rivera down to eighth, making the gap a touch more respectable. Chinese youngster Song Yadong has also moved up a spot to number 12, ahead of John Dodson [13] in a random move, with much of the division appearing a touch stagnant. Hopefully some movement from the champion gets things going.


Askar Askarov +6 [12]
Alex Perez +3 [9]
Tim Elliott -3 [11]
Ryan Benoit NR

A pair of rising contenders made statements over the last month to push their case in the flyweight rankings, with Askar Askarov and Alex Perez both breaking into the division’s top 10. Askarov defeated former title challenger and TUF alum Tim Elliott [11] to soar up to number six, while Perez shot up to number nine after defeating the now-twelfth-ranked Jordan Espinosa. Somewhat bizarrely, only 14 men make up the flyweight rankings as Ryan Benoit has been cut from his post at number 15, and the upcoming removal of Henry Cejudo as champion could further shorten the roster. They are great to watch, so hopefully the crowning of a new champion and those rising contenders can revitalise the division.


Holly Holm +1 [2]
Sara McMann +1 [9]

Another division with a lack of clarity at the top is that of the women’s bantamweights, with a fresh and truly deserving number one contender remaining out of sight. Holly Holm, a former champion and challenger, put up her hand with a dominant decision victory at UFC 246 to swap once again into second spot in front of Aspen Ladd, while Irene Aldana‘s rise into the top five makes her a possible future challenger. Further down the list, Sara McMann jumped into ninth spot upon a victorious return to action, pushing Marion Reneau down to tenth, with not a whole lot of action set to come.


Antonina Shevchenko +1 [11]
Poliana Botelho NR [15]
Paige VanZant NR

The women’s flyweight division is set to heat up in 2020, with contenders shifting up the order in anticipation of February’s title bout. Roxanne Modafferi halted the run of one of those, Maycee Barber [9], to rightfully take up rank number five, while movement down the order is also worth note. Antonina Shevchenko [11] swaps with Montana de la Rosa [12], while Paige VanZant has been removed from the rankings following her injury and bout cancellation. Poliana Botelho takes up her spot at number 15, and former strawweight Alexa Grasso could be another to slot into the numbers after declaring she would be moving up to 125lbs.


The top end of the women’s strawweight division looks ridiculously good, and is set for a shake-up in the upcoming months with four of the top five fighters set to face off. There has been no movement as of late, or as of yet, but Alexa Grasso looks likely to be removed from the rankings once she completes a move up to flyweight after having her bout with Claudia Gadelha cancelled due to weight-cutting issues.

Card recap – UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. dos Santos – ‘Razor’ Blaydes slices into title contention

STATEMENT made. Curtis Blaydes thrust himself back into the heavyweight title picture in the UFC Raleigh main event, stopping former champion Junior dos Santos in Round 2. Michael Chiesa also took full advantage of his moment in the sun with as he utilised a perfect gameplan to topple Rafael dos Anjos via decision, with a bunch of claims staked further down an interesting fight card. We recap each fight, and analyse every fight-ending sequence and decision from the latest UFC Fight Night instalment.

FOTN: Brett Johns vs.Tony Gravely
POTN: Alex Perez, Herbert Burns


HEAVYWEIGHT | Curtis Blaydes [3] def. Junior dos Santos [4] | TKO (Knees and punches) 1:06 Rd 2

Round by round:

Round 1 – 10-9 Blaydes

The broadcast team notice ‘JDS’ is deliberately keeping a hand low by his hip in anticipation of a Blaydes takedown, but of course, that leaves his whole left side open up top. Blaydes is the clearly busier fighter, hunting the Brazilian down and charging in for a couple of takedown attempts. But dos Santos answers well, stuffing both emphatically and winding up for that lead uppercut to no avail. Blaydes gets in deep with a third attempt but ends up in a clinch, where he also lands a groin strike to break up the action. Finished with an 0-4 on takedown attempts at the end of the round for Blaydes, but clearly the aggressor. ‘JDS’ hanging his hopes on the uppercut and thwarting the American’s game.

Round 2 – Stoppage

Can’t get the fight to the mat? No worries, Blaydes finishes it on the feet early in Round 2. Looking to push the pace again, he lands heavy up top over the lowered guard of JDS as he winds up that uppercut, and puts him away standing.

Fight-ending sequence: Blaydes changes levels to hint feint the takedown, but instead throws a beautiful 1-2 and beats JDS to the punch with a looping right while the Brazilian winds up that lead uppercut. He follows up with a barrage of knees and punches to leave the referee with no choice but to step in.

WELTERWEIGHT | Michael Chiesa def. Rafael dos Anjos [5] | Decision (Unanimous) 30-27, 29-28, 29-28

Round by round:

Round 1 – 10-9 Chiesa

Chiesa looks huge. The American is looking for a way in, clinching and slipping to the back of ‘RDA’. Chiesa drags the Brazilian down and gets both hooks in, eventually locking in a body triangle. Chiesa threatens the rear-naked choke, one of his favourite moves, but RDA is a great grappler and escapes to pull guard, eventually getting back up. The round ends with a beautiful level change and takedown for Chiesa.

Round 2 – 10-9 Chiesa (20-18)

Chiesa continues to go forward and lock up, adopting the Usman and Covington pressure and wrestling gameplans which worked to smother the former 155lbs champion. RDA lands a couple of nice shots and starts to chop the lead leg in typical fashion. Chiesa is still looking strong though, and keeps slipping to the back as the two clinch. Close round, an argument to be made either way.

Round 3 – 10-9 Chiesa (30-27)

RDA needs a finish from our view. Chiesa locks up straight away against the cage and takes RDA down. Chiesa isolates an arm on top and looks for a straight armlock, but RDA pulls the arm free – great defence. A stalemate ensues with RDA trying to lock up a leg, but Chiesa escapes to get into full guard. Chiesa stays busy on top with some ground-and-pound to see it out. Perfect gameplan from Chiesa, nullifying the dangerous Brazilian. And he calls out Colby Covington, bold.

We had it: 30-27 Chiesa – all three rounds to the victor, who did enough to nullify dos Anjos in each round and took up greater octagon control.

FLYWEIGHT | Alex Perez [12] def. Jordan Espinosa [11] | Submission (Arm triangle choke) 2:33 Rd 1

Alex Perez made an ideal return from injury, finishing the higher-ranked Jordan Espinosa in Round 1 to put himself up for top 10 status. Espinosa is so smooth on the feet, but Perez looked to quell his movement with a takedown and was successful, transitioning into the dominant position which would eventually allow him to put Espinosa out cold via submission. It was an unorthodox technique with the arm triangle choke coming from the ‘wrong side’, but Perez’s shoulder pressure allowed him to help stop the blood flow and put his opponent to sleep.

Fight-ending sequence: It was an unorthodox technique with the arm triangle choke coming from the ‘wrong side’, but Perez’s shoulder pressure allowed him to help stop the blood flow and put his opponent to sleep.

W. STRAWWEIGHT | Angela Hill def. Hannah Cifers | TKO (Elbows and punches) 4:26 Rd 2

Angela Hill again reminded us of her talents, silencing the Raleigh crowd by finishing their local fighter in brutal fashion. Hill looked the bigger and longer woman, hoping to keep the stand-up game at range while Cifers tried to initiate more of a dogfight in-close. A good pace was set in Round 1, and a nice sweep from Hill in Round 2 spelled the beginning of the end as she transitioned to mount and sealed the deal.

Fight-ending sequence: Upon reaching a very deep full mount, Hill dropped some heavy elbows and punches on Cifers, with the referee stepping in after having a long look at the action.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT | Jamahal Hill def. Darko Stosic | Decision (Unanimous) 29-27, 29-27, 29-27

Jamahal Hill improved to 7-0 in his young MMA career with an impressive win over dangerous Serbian powerhouse, Darko Stosic. It was all-action from the start, with Hill showing great energy while Stosic had the power moving in with flurries. Stosic’s left hand over the top looked a winner, and his path to victory if he could land it cleanly enough, but some superb wrestling in Round 3 had us wondering why he didn’t use his grappling sooner. Hill was terrific on the feet, constantly landing better combinations and slowing Stosic down with body shots.

We had it: 29-28 Hill – Stosic’s grappling easily gave him Round 3 honours, but Hill took out the first two just as dominantly. Big left hands from Stosic kept him from a 10-8 downer, despite being pieced up.


MIDDLEWEIGHT | Bevon Lewis def. Dequan Townsend | Decision (Unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

In 25 or less: Another Contender Series graduate on the rise earns a well deserved maiden promotional win. Slick on the feet and adjusted well when hampered late-on.

We had it: 30-27 Lewis – easy decision, Lewis takes all three Rounds. Dominant without having those near-fight-ending moments.

FEATHERWEIGHT | Arnold Allen def. Nik Lentz | Decision (Unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 30-27

In 25 or less: Great win over a wily opponent. Much too slick up top, and now 7-0 in the UFC. Featherweight rankings beckon again for the Englishman.

We had it: 30-27 Allen – an argument could go the way of Lentz in either of the first two rounds, but Allen landed the better blows and nullified his opponent’s grappling plans.

W. FLYWEIGHT | Justine Kish def. Lucie Pudilova | Decision (Unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

In 25 or less: Far from a barnburner, but Kish had the better moments in a fight bereft of them. Pudilova surprisingly unwilling to engage with Kish’s awkward style.

We had it: 30-27 Kish – A straightforward one, Pudilova simply didn’t do enough in any round and Kish had the bigger moments.

BANTAMWEIGHT | Montel Jackson def. Felipe Colares | Decision (Unanimous) 30-26, 30-26, 30-25

In 25 or less: Tied for the most takedowns in a bantamweight fight (11), and Jackson was just as impressive on the feet. A good prospect with finishing potential.

We had it: 30-26 Jackson – Second round a 10-8 to Jackson as he went close to finishing, easily won each round.

W. BANTAMWEIGHT | Sara McMann [10] def. Lina Lansberg [11] | Decision (Unanimous) 30-27, 30-26, 30-25

In 25 or less: A single takedown in each round was all it took for McMann. Over 12 minutes of top control overall, what a return. Ugly, but dominant.

We had it: 30-26 McMann – first two rounds were a landslide, possibly 10-8, and McMann clearly won all three with over four minutes of control in each.

BANTAMWEIGHT | Brett Johns def. Tony Gravely | Submission (Rear-naked choke) 2:53 Rd 3

In 25 or less: A great match-up. Gravely is a warrior, but Johns was too good for too long and took full advantage of a late opportunity. Great patience.

Fight-ending sequence: Johns wore Gravely down, dragging him to the mat and pouncing with heavy strikes. They acted as a distraction to the choke, with Johns sinking it in easily and getting the tap.

FEATHERWEIGHT | Herbert Burns def. Nate Landwehr | KO (Knee) 2:43 Rd 1

In 25 or less: Hardly a better way to debut for Burns who came in the superior grappler, but finished in style on the feet. Disappointing homecoming for Landwehr.

Fight-ending sequence: The American lands a couple of nice shots coming in, but Burns waits for his shot under fire against the cage and lands a perfectly placed knee to Landwehr’s chin. Awesome KO.

Card preview – UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. dos Santos

TWO of the top UFC heavyweights are set to rumble in Raleigh, as Curtis Blaydes and Junior dos Santos look to fight their way back into the title picture with a win in their headline bout. In the co-main event, former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos will hope to prove he is more than a gatekeeper at 170lbs when he faces fellow former 155’er Michael Chiesa, while the remaining card provides a chance for fans to catch a glimpse of some rising talent and a scattering of staple MMA veterans.


HEAVYWEIGHT | Curtis Blaydes [3] vs. Junior dos Santos [4]

Much-loved veteran and perennial heavyweight contender Junior dos Santos will hope to open yet another championship run when he faces fellow top fiver, Curtis Blaydes. The bout looms as 35-year-old dos Santos’ seventh-straight main event, and fifth-consecutive UFC Fight Night headliner since going down to current champ, Stipe Miocic at UFC 211. His near-unrivalled experience and powerful, technical boxing make him a serious threat to any heavyweight, and Blaydes should know plenty about powerful stand-up fighters given both of his career losses have come at the hands of Francis Ngannou. For Blaydes to capture a third-straight win, he’ll need to close the distance fast and get working on his wearing wrestling style, but that also may bring dos Santos’ often overlooked jiu jitsu game to the fore. It makes for an interesting battle on paper, and one which may further blur the heavyweight title picture with the next championship bout still to be announced.

Prediction: dos Santos by T/KO

WELTERWEIGHT | Rafael dos Anjos [5] vs. Michael Chiesa

Jerking the curtain for a huge main event is another headliner-hogger in Rafael dos Anjos, who makes his seventh-straight main or co-main event outing in a bout with fellow former lightweight, Michael Chiesa. The former 155lbs champion has not been able to string together consecutive wins since initially moving up to welterweight in 2017, but has faced a raft of absolute killers of late as somewhat of a measuring stick for the 170lbs division. Up next is Chiesa, the TUF 15 winner who is looking to crack the rankings in his new division having won his last two bouts. But dos Anjos provides a stiff step-up in competition that Chiesa has often fallen short against, so it should prove a real test for the quirky American. Both men have high-level jiu jitsu, but the stylistic advantage lies with dos Anjos on the feet, and he is so hard to put away.

Prediction: dos Anjos by submission

FLYWEIGHT | Jordan Espinosa [11] vs. Alex Perez [12]

A top 10 spot in the flyweight rankings could be up for grabs in this main card bout between Jordan Espinosa and Alex Perez, two Contender Series alumni. In the red corner will be eleventh-ranked contender, Espinosa, who took two Contender Series stoppages to be afforded his UFC contract by the boss. The 30-year-old grappler is finding his feet in the promotion at 1-1, and a win against Perez would really help his standing. But Perez, who earned a contract on his first try, comes in with four promotional wins and experience in the octagon against title challenger, Joseph Benavidez. Perez’s steep rise highlights the faith the UFC has in him, but this will be a good test having not fought for almost a full year.

Prediction: Perez by decision

W. STRAWWEIGHT | Hannah Cifers vs. Angela Hill

A relative promotional veteran meets a relative promotional newcomer as Angela Hill and Hannah Cifers do battle in their women’s strawweight bout, with both fighters looking to crack the divisional rankings. Hill, 5-7 in the UFC over two stints, is the former Invicta strawweight champion, but has not been able to string together a run of wins since defending that crown in 2016. On the other hand, Cifers has accumulated a similar record in various promotions over the same time, going 2-1 since entering the UFC and only losing to Maycee Barber in her last eight bouts. Cifers has shown she can throw hands and hang with some solid opponents, but the high-level experience sits with the active and often overlooked Hill. Either way, it should be an interesting battle.

Prediction: Hill by decision

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT | Jamahal Hill vs. Darko Stosic

Contender Series graduate Jamahal Hill makes his UFC debut against Serbian judo and kickboxing practitioner, Darko Stosic. The Serb has shown he can bang on the feet despite his grappling background, earning seven T/KO victories, but more recently suffering two of his three career losses to stand 1-2 in the UFC. Hill is a more fresh prospect with a 6-0 professional record, six months off a TKO win in his contract-earning bout. He, too can find a way to win up top with his raw athleticism, and comes in with a decent size advantage at four inches taller than Stosic. In the opening main card slot, this is a good chance for both men to mark their mark on the promotion in a division desperate for exciting new contenders.

Prediction: Stosic by T/KO


One to watch:

FEATHERWEIGHT | Arnold Allen vs Nik Lentz

Two of the more well known fighters on the undercard are Arnold Allen and Nik Lentz, who make up our fight to watch on the prelims. 15-1, Allen is fresh off being dumped from the featherweight rankings, but may be in for a return with a win against 43-fight veteran Lentz. It will be no mean feat given ‘The Carny”s experience; Lentz had been competing in the UFC for three years before Allen’s first professional bout, making this a classic match-up between youth and experience. It could provide a timely revamp for Englishman Allen, who was expected to face Josh Emmett in this bout while Lentz was booked to fight Nad Narimani, but the American can never be overlooked.

Prediction: Allen by decision

MIDDLEWEIGHT | Bevon Lewis vs. Dequan Townsend

In 25 or less: These two are a combined 0-3 in the UFC, but can throw heat on the feet. Will Lewis be the next Contender Series success?

Prediction: Lewis by T/KO

W. FLYWEIGHT | Justine Kish vs. Lucie Pudilova

In 25 or less: It’s do-or-die for two women on losing streaks, but who’ve faced tough opposition. Pudilova has four fights since Kish’s last, and it could be telling.

Prediction: Pudilova by decision

BANTAMWEIGHT | Montel Jackson vs. Felipe Colares

In 25 or less: A couple of exciting grappling prospects throw down in this one, and we know how much Dana loves a Contender Series product.

Prediction: Jackson by T/KO

W. BANTAMWEIGHT | Sara McMann [10] vs. Lina Lansberg [11]

In 25 or less: McMann’s return bout after almost two years away, but a fellow tough veteran awaits. Hard to look past the Swede’s stand-up.

Prediction: Lansberg by decision

BANTAMWEIGHT | Brett Johns vs. Tony Gravely

In 25 or less: Sick of Contender Series graduates yet? Gravely is another, who faced decent opposition on his way to the UFC. But Johns needs a win.

Prediction: Johns by submission

FEATHERWEIGHT | Herbert Burns vs. Nate Landwehr

In 25 or less: Two UFC debutants, both on solid win streaks and from high-level promotions. Could be a good one to open the night.

Prediction: Burns by decision