UFC Fight Night 145: Blachowicz vs. Santos

The UFC featured its first event in The Czech Republic with UFC Fight Night 145: Blachowicz vs. Santos, from the 02 Arena in Prague. Although not stacked with the most notable names on the UFC roster, this card displayed some knockout and notable performances from the “City of 100 Spires.”

Klidson Abreu (14-3) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (11-1)

The story of the first fight of the main card from UFC Fight Night 145 was the short right uppercut of Magomed Ankalaev. While defending an early takedown, Ankalaev caught Klidson Abreu on the level change and badly broke Abreu’s nose. From that shot, Abreu looked hesitant and failed to find an answer for the hands of Ankalaev. Abreu, having secured submission victories in 10 out of his 14 wins, could not find the dominant position that helped propel his MMA career. Ankalaev looked great, both in striking and grappling. At 11-1, look for Magomed Ankalaev to start asserting himself further down the ranks of the UFC Light Heavyweight division.

Victor:  Magomed Ankalaev, unanimous decision

Petr Yan (12-1) vs. John Dodson (21-11)

Feb 23, 2019; Prague, Czech Republic; John Dodson (red gloves) and Petr Yan (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at 02 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the only Bantamweight fight on the main card featured an aggressive Petr Yan, perpetually marching forward and making the Octagon as small as possible for John Dodson. Dodson never found his range, backing away from Petr Yan and allowing Yan to stay to the outside.

Although John Dodson did drop Petr Yan with a heavy left about mid-way through the second, the round was again dominated by the same relentless pursuit from Petr Yan, and Dodson’s inability to get inside. Dodson seemed tired and unfocused in the third, and although he didn’t get finished, he was outclassed in every way through 15 minutes inside the octagon.

Victor:  Petr Yan, unanimous decision

Lucie Pudilova (8-4) vs. Liz Carmouche (13-6)

Feb 23, 2019; Prague, Czech Republic; Liz Carmouche (red gloves) and Lucie Pudilova (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at 02 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

This match in the women’s Flyweight began with both fighters competing for control of the center of the cage. Liz Carmouche then powered Lucie Pudilova into the cage, and the women spent the majority of the round with Carmouche holding her weight against Pudilova. Carmouche secured a single leg in the last minute, but Pudlilova caught her with a short strike from the bottom that caused a brutal cut on Carmouche’s hairline that left a huge puddle of blood on the mat as the horn blew.

Lucie Pudilova came out confident in the second, smelling blood from Carmouche. She began to better control the center of the Octagon, working her range. Liz Carmouche secured a big takedown with 90 seconds left in the round, and the 10th Planet jiu jitsu blackbelt secured mount. However, she was quickly swept by Pudilova, who delivered some ground and pound until the horn.

I had the fight 19 all going into the 3rd, however I could see how the judges might have had it scored 20-18 Carmouche, with the advantage she had in striking up until that point. That being said, Carmouche really got to display her grappling pedigree in the third, catching a front kick from Pudilova and taking her down to the canvas. Carmouche transitioned to a beautiful heel hook attempt, but couldn’t quite get it locked up.

Victor:  Liz Carmouche, unanimous decision

Michal Oleksiejczuk (13-2,1) vs. Gian Villante (17-11)

With the first three fights of the main card going the distance, Poland’s Michal Oleksiejczuk made sure to not leave his victory over Gian Villante in the judge’s hands. The fight began with a lot of movement from Oleksiejczuk, seeming small and nimble for a Light Heavyweight, and giving Villante a lot of different looks. Only 90 seconds into the very first round, Oleksiejczuk nailed Villante with a beautifully timed low left uppercut to the liver, causing Villante to cringe and drop to the mat. Oleksiejczuk pursued, but referee Marc Goddard was there to call the fight a first round knock out.

Victor:  Michal Oleksiejczuk, 1st round KO

Marcos Rogério de Lima (16-7-1) vs. Stefan Struve (33-11)

Feb 23, 2019; Prague, Czech Republic; Stefan Struve (red gloves) fights Marcos Rogerio de Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at 02 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

In the first and only Heavyweight matchup of the main card, Marcos Rogério de Lima faced the 7 foot “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve. The first round was as obvious a 10-8 round as ever. De Lima caught Struve with his very first right punch, dropping Struve to the canvas. De Lima pursued, and spent the entire round delivering methodically violent ground and pound to the head and body of Struve. Struve had his body up against the cage, and just could not create enough space to escape.

That would be the end of good tidings for De Lima. Struve immediately took De Lima down in the second, finding himself in the Brazilian’s half guard. Struve applied constant shoulder pressure while attempting to slide his leg out of the half guard of De Lima and eventually passed to mount. Using his shoulder pressure, Stefan Struve isolated an arm and locked up a tight arm triangle choke, quickly evoking the tap.

Victor:  Stefan Struve, 2nd round submission, arm triangle choke

Thiago Santos (21-6) vs. Jan Blachowicz (23-8)

The main event of the card, featuring Jan Blachowicz taking on Thiago Santos, began with a show of respect as both fighters touched gloves. That would be the end of civilities. It was a big opportunity for #6 ranked Santos to further establish himself in the top ranks of the Light Heavyweight division with a win over #4 Blachowicz.

Early on, Santos did a great job establishing his range and keeping Blachowicz to the outside, using an oblique kick almost like a jab. Santos looked great, extraordinarily confident with both his hands and legs. However, Jan Blachowicz also looked sharp, countering the advance of Santos and keeping the strike count dead even going into the third.

It was clear that both fighters were showing patience, preparing for the potential of championship rounds. The tension could be felt as the third round began, but in the opening minute Santos caught Blachowicz with a perfectly timed 1-2 counter that dropped Blachowicz to the floor. Santos pursued and delivered punishing hammer fists until referee Herb Dean stepped in and called it.

Santos has been on an absolute tear lately, winning seven of his last eight fights. Expect to see Thiago “The Sledgehammer” Santos improve in ranking this week, and expect to see him in title contention much sooner than later.

Victor:  Thiago Santos, 3rd round TKO

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