UFC on ESPN+ 24: Blaydes vs. dos Santos Preview

Going head-to-head with Bellator this weekend, UFC will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina, USA for a card on ESPN+. Headlining the show will be heavyweights Junior dos Santos and Curtis Blaydes. Both high ranked, the winner of this fight could move themself ahead in the line to challenge for Stipe Miocic’s UFC Heavyweight Championship.

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Prelims

Bout 1: Nate Landwehr (13-2) vs. Herbert Burns (9-2) (Featherweight)

Kicking off the preliminary card on ESPN+ at 5PM EST will be a featherweight battle between Nate Landwehr and Herbert Burns. The matchup is a double debut, with Burns getting a contract from Dana White’s Contender Series back in August. Burns had a 5-2 record in ONE FC and a 2-0 run in Titan FC prior ot the signing. Landwehr is on a seven-fight winning streak, with most of those wins from Russian MMA promotion M-1 Challenge.

Bout 2: Brett Johns (15-2) vs. Tony Gravely (19-5) (Bantamweight)

Another debuting Contender Series fighter is on this card in Tony Gravely, being put up against Brett Johns. Gravely stopped Ray Rodriguez in the third round on the show to earn his UFC contract and extend his winning streak to seven. Johns could be fighting for his future in the UFC on Saturday, as he is currently on a two-fight losing streak, his only two losses as a pro. He made his UFC debut in 2016, picking up three wins before losing to Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz.

Bout 3: Sara McMann (11-5) vs. Lina Lansberg (10-4) (Bantamweight)

Making her return after maternity leave, Sara McMann will challenge Lina Lansberg on the prelims. McMann’s last fight was in early 2018, losing to Marion Renau via triangle choke. After a late 2018 loss to Yana Kunitskaya, Lansberg has bounced back by getting scorecard wins over Tonya Evinger and Macy Chiasson. It’s safe to say that McMann will have a challenge in her comeback bout.

Bout 4: Montel Jackson (8-1) vs. Felipe Corales (9-1) (Bantamweight)

The next preliminary fight will see two more bantamweights compete. Montel Jackson and Felipe Corales, who are both coming off of wins in their short UFC careers thus far will be put against each other. Despite having similar records, Vegas heavily favours Jackson as a -600 favourite. Jackson was picked up via the Contender Series, going 2-1 since then. Corales is 1-1 in the UFC, recently going the distance for a unanimous decision win against Domingo Pilarte.

Bout 5: Justine Kish (6-2) vs. Lucie Pudilova (8-5) (Flyweight)

Justine Kish and Lucie Pudilova will both attempt to break their losing streaks on Saturday, but only one will prevail. Kish hasn’t been super active, with her last two fights taking place over the last two years, being losses to Felice Herrig and Ji Yeon Kim. Pudilova has been more active, with her last three fights, all losses, within the last year and a half. Most recently, Pudilova was stopped in the second round via rear naked choke against Antonina Shevchenko.

Bout 6: Arnold Allen (15-1) vs. Nik Lentz (30-10-2) (Featherweight)

The seemingly unstoppable Arnold Allen will be put against the much more experienced Nik Lentz in what should be an interesting matchup on Saturday. Allen has been undefeated since 2014, currently with six wins in his UFC run. His most recent win was easily his biggest challenge, being a decision win over Gilbert Melendez. Lentz is coming off of a loss to Charles Oliveira, however, there’s no doubt his advantage in this fight is having more octagon time, over doubling the number of professional fights that Allen has.

Bout 7: Bevon Lewis (6-2) vs. Dequan Townsend (21-9) (Middleweight)

The preliminary part of the card will be headlined be Bevon Lewis and Dequan Townsend. Lewis was signed to the UFC through the Contender Series but has yet to get a win in the octagon, falling to Uriah Hall and Darren Stewart before. Townsend made his UFC debut in 2019, having an unsuccessful outing against Dalcha Lungiambula.

Bout 8: Jamahal Hill (6-0) vs. Darko Stosic (13-3) (Light Heavyweight)

 

The main card will kick off with the sole undefeated fighter on the card, Jamahal Hill, fighting Darko Stosic. Hill impressed UFC brass in the fifth episode of the 2019 Contender Series season, stopping Alexander Poppeck in the second round with elbows. This fight will be his debut on the big stage. Stosic has something to prove as well, currently chasing the feeling he had when he had his one and only UFC win, back in July of 2018. He has since failed to prevail over Devin Clark and Kennedy Nzechukwu.

Bout 9: Hannah Cifers (10-3) vs. Angela Hill (10-7) (Strawweight)

Angela Hill was a busy fighter in 2019. After a run of taking four fights in seven months, Hill took an understandable break for the final quarter of 2019. She returns to the octagon on Saturday, fighting Hannah Cifers. Cifers is riding a two-fight winning streak, last winning over Jodie Esquibel at UFC 241.

Bout 10: Jordan Espinosa (14-6) vs. Alex Perez (22-5) (Flyweight)

In late 2018, Alex Perez tasted defeat in the UFC for the first time, taking many unanswered shots by Joseph Benavidez before the referee fully stepped in. That didn’t stop his momentum however, as he bounced back by beating Mark De La Rosa. Riding that momentum, Perez will fight Jordan Espinosa high up on this card. Espinosa sees himself in Perez’s position, attempting to come off his first loss in the UFC, which was also a first-round stoppage. On Saturday, another fighter will likely see their second loss in the big leagues.

Bout 11: Rafael dos Anjos (29-12) vs. Michael Chiesa (15-4) (Welterweight)

Michael Chiesa has been undefeated since making the switch from lightweight to welterweight back in 2018. He has defeated Carlos Condit and Diego Sanchez, and now eyes to beat Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event slot of this card. “RDA” has lost quite a bit recently, however it’s worth noting his losses have come to notable names in the division. He lost an interim Welterweight Championship fight to Colby Covington in 2018 at UFC 225. He then lost to current champion Kamaru Usman, going to decision. He has most recently lost to Leon Edwards, defeating Kevin Lee before then. While Chiesa is being pitted against someone who has lost more than they have won recently, dos Anjos is the biggest welterweight challenge he has gotten so far.

Bout 12: Curtis Blaydes (12-2) vs. Junior dos Santos (21-6) (Heavyweight)

Main eventing in Raleigh will be Curtis Blaydes and Junior dos Santos. The battle is one between one of the division’s rising stars and a more experienced veteran. Of course the star is Blaydes, with the more experienced being Santos. Blaydes holds an impressive 12-2 record, with the two defeats coming via fights against Francis Ngannou. He is on a two-fight winning streak, going through Justin Willis and Shamil Abdurakhimov. 

Santos’ last win gives him a way to relate to Blaydes, as he lost to Ngannou back in June. He failed to fight Alexander Volkov in November, falling victim to a bacterial infection. Santos is most known for his 2011 UFC Heavyweight Championship run, which saw him dethrone Cain Velasquez. After a defence against Frank Mir, Santos lost the belt in a rematch against Velasquez. Both Blaydes and Santos are highly ranked in the division, and a win could put them in closer reach to Stipe Miocic’s Heavyweight belt. With that being said, there are a lot of bidders for that title shot at the moment.

UFC will take next weekend off, returning on the 8th with UFC 247 in Houston, Texas, USA. Headlining that card will be Jon Jones putting his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on the line against undefeated Dominick Reyes.

UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos Full Report

UFC’s annual “International Fight Week” was headlined by two title fights this year. As usual, live from Las Vegas, the 12 fight card saw Champions Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes face their respective challengers, Thiago Santos and Holly Holm. The card also had big names like Jorge Masvidal, Ben Askren, Luke Rockhold and more. With knockouts, records broken and more, let’s look at UFC 239.

Bout 1: Pannie Kianzad (11-4) vs. Julia Avila (6-1) (Bantamweight)

The first fight of the evening was the debut of Julia Avila and the return to the UFC for Pannie Kianzad. Very early in the bout Kianzad had Avila pinned up against the cage. Avila turned it around, putting Kianzad up against the cage. She landed elbows and knees. They broke free for more stand-up, but Kianzad clinched up against the cage once again. Leaving clinch she landed a good two punch combo. Avila landed more strikes which backed Kianzad up against the cage. Early in the second round it was Avila who engaged in a clinch. Avila landed a takedown later on but got up shortly after. Kianzad landed a good flurry of strikes in the fourth minute which cut Avila. Avila had a flash of greatness seconds after, putting together punches which had Kianzad panicking. Avila landed a hard front kick in the final seconds of the round. Avila defended a takedown and took control on the ground as the round closed out. Kianzad was dropped with strikes a minute or so into the final round. Avila went into top position on the ground. She took her back after Kianzad rolled around. Avila tried for a rear naked choke but Kianzad got out of it. Avila stayed on control on the ground until the round concluded. Julia Avila was given the victory via the judges (30-27, 30-26 & 30-26).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Kianzad99927
Avila10101030

Bout 2: Chance Rencountre (13-3) vs. Ismail Naurdiev (18-2) (Welterweight)

The next bout was a welterweight battle between Chance Rencountre and Ismail Naurdiev. Early on both fighters were landing good shots. Rencountre had Naurdiev on the ground up against the cage for a while. The round ended in this position. At the start of the second round Rencountre got control on the ground again. He was on Naurdiev’s back this time. He started to throw punches. Naurdiev flipped over, but Rencountre still had half guard. They stayed in this position until the round concluded. Rencountre shot for another takedown twice in the third round but Naurdiev defended it. Both fighters had strong punches despite being visibly fatigued. Halfway through the round, Rencountre got on Naurdiev’s back once again. He flattened out Naurdiev and started to land punches. Naurdiev landed a takedown in the final seconds. Chance Rencountre was victorious, winning via scorecards (29-27, 29-28 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Rencountre101010
Naurdiev989

Bout 3: Jack Marshman (23-8) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (9-0) (Middleweight)

In the final early prelim bout, Jack Marshman faced a young and undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan. Joe Rogan pointed out that Shahbazyan was born the year he started to call UFC fights. In the first minute of the bout Shahbazyan landed a takedown. From above he landed hard punches. He put in a rear naked choke which made Marshman tap out in no time. Edmen Shahbazyan extended his undefeated record into double digits in a short bout.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Marshman



Shahbazyan



Bout 4: Alejandro Perez (21-7-1) (#13) vs. Yadong Song (14-4) (Bantamweight)

Starting off the preliminary card on ESPN was Alejandro Perez versus Yadong Song. The fight had close striking until Song dropped Perez cold with a right hook to end the fight.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Perez



Song



Bout 5: Claudia Gadelha (16-4) (#5) vs. Randa Markos (9-6-1) (#14) (Strawweight)

In the first matchup that had two ranked fighters, Claudia Gadelha faced Randa Markos. Throughout the first round both fighters kept a hunched over stance and were somewhat inactive. The second round was much like the first except Gadelha shot for a takedown in the final seconds which wasn’t successful. The fight went the distance to the displeasure of the audience. The judges gave the fight to Claudia Gadelha (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27). 

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Gadelha10101030
Markos99927

Bout 6: Marlon Vera (15-5-1) vs. Nohelin Hernandez (10-2) (Bantamweight)

In another bantamweight bout, Marlon Vera fought Nohelin Hernandez. Vera took Hernandez’s back early in the first round. He tried for a rear naked choke for many minutes before transitioning into an armbar. Hernandez landed punches which got him out of the armbar predicament. Hernandez put in a d’arce choke as the round concluded. In the second round Hernandez got top position on the ground. He landed some punches before leaving the position, letting Vera stand up as well. Vera connected with a knee in stand-up which put Hernandez on the ground. Vera put in a rear naked choke which made Hernandez tap out.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Vera9


Hernandez10


Bout 7: Arnold Allen (14-1) vs. Gilbert Melendez (22-7) (Featherweight)

After a near two year break, Gilbert Melendez returned in this next fight to face Arnold Allen. This match concluded the preliminary card. The first round had Allen out-striking Melendez. The second round felt like more of the same. Allen landed a takedown in the first minute of the third round. They went back to their feet shortly after. All three judges gave the fight to Arnold Allen (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Allen10101030
Melendez99927

Bout 8: Michael Chiesa (14-4) vs. Diego Sanchez (29-11) (Welterweight)

Moving to the main card, Michael Chiesa fought Diego Sanchez in a welterweight bout. A lot of the talk this weekend is from Diego Sanchez having one cornerman for this fight who doesn’t have much experience in MMA. Besides the absurdity, there is a possible health risk as a corner is supposed to look out for the health of their fighter. He sprinted out with a towel over his head during the walkout. In the first ten seconds of the fight Sanchez shot for a takedown. Chiesa was controlling on the ground, trying for a few submission holds. They stood back up where Chiesa landed some good knees. After being in a clinch for a while Chiesa threw Sanchez back to the ground. Chiesa took his back and put in a rear naked choke, but Sanchez escaped. He landed some elbows to the head and tried for it again but Sanchez escaped. They stood back up into clinch. Sanchez brought it back to the ground but Chiesa took the dominant position once again. The first round was a one-sided affair. Chiesa was the one to shoot for a takedown early in the second. He landed some punches to the head before they stood up once again. At one point Chiesa flattened out Sanchez and started to throw unanswered strikes. He put in a rear naked choke up Sanchez got out. Chiesa tried for a kimura until the second round concluded. The third round was another dominant one where Chiesa was always in control on the ground. The judges all had it in favour of Michael Chiesa (30-26, 30-26 & 30-26).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Chiesa10101030
Sanchez98825

Bout 9: Luke Rockhold (16-4) vs. Jan Blachowicz (23-8) (#6) (Light Heavyweight)

In-between fights news broke that Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz got into an incident in the crowd at the event. Security separated them before things got out of control. The next bout was Luke Rockhold versus Jan Blachowicz. After landing many kicks, Rockhold shot for a takedown. He tried for a few minutes but never secured it. As the horn went at the end of the round, Blachowicz fired off a fury of strikes including a kick after the horn which dropped Rockhold. Rockhold stepped towards Blachowicz after the bell as if he was either angry or not sure if the round ended. In the second round Rockhold was hit with punches that made him fall like a tree. Referee Herb Dean stepped in shortly after to end the bout.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Rockhold9


Blachowicz10


Bout 10: Ben Askren (19-0) (#5)  vs. Jorge Masvidal (33-13) (#4) (Welterweight)

In the next bout, two high ranked welterweights in Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal faced off in a grudge match. In the first few seconds of the bout, Masvidal landed a flying knee which immediately knocked out Askren cold. Masvidal was in his face right after the fight ended. Ending at five seconds, it was the quickest fight in UFC history. Askren was guided out of the octagon before the decision was made. 

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Askren



Masvidal



Bout 11: Holly Holm (12-4) (#2) vs. Amanda Nunes (17-4) (UFC Bantamweight Championship)

In the co-main event slot of the evening, we had Holly Holm challenge Amanda Nunes for her UFC Bantamweight Championship. The first round was close until Nunes landed a kick to the head right her right leg which ended it.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total
Holm





Nunes





Bout 12: Thiago Santos (21-6) (#2) vs. Jon Jones (24-1) (UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)

The main event of the evening was Thiago Santos challenging Jon Jones for his Light Heavyweight Championship. Jones had a huge reach advantage in this fight. Santos circled the outside while Jones stayed in the inside of the octagon. Jones caught a leg kick from Santos and tried a spinning back elbow when exiting the hold. Santos threw a few kicks to the leg in the opening minutes. After a combination of punches were thrown, Jones’ mouthpiece fell out. He put it back in and they continued. At the start of the second round the commentators claimed Santos hurt himself after throwing a kick. Santos fell and then was hit with a kick to the mid-section around halfway through the round. Santos landed some good combinations of kicks and punches as the round wound down. Santos kept exploding with punches in the third. Jones threw a flying knee but it either didn’t phase Santos or didn’t land. Santos slipped after throwing a leg kick, and was hit with an elbow when getting up. The elbow cut open Santos along the hairline. Jones landed a good head kick with 90 seconds in the third round. The crowd started to boo in the fourth round. Both fighters slowed their already slow pace, although Santos still exploded with punches a couple of times. Jones was often the one coming forward. Near the end of the round Santos’ injury became more apparent as he seemed to get the worst out of a kick that he threw. Santos continued with combinations in the fifth round, but it never seemed to hurt Jones. Jones threw more low kicks in this round to take advantage of the injury. The fight went all five rounds. Jon Jones got the victory via split decision (48-47, 48-47 & 48-47).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total
Santos101099947
Jones9910101048

UFC returns next week with a fight night from Sacramento, California. Germaine de Randamie and Aspen Ladd headline the 13 fight card. UFC veteran and Hall of Famer Urijah Faber returns in the co-main event, facing Ricky Simon. The next PPV is on July 27th, with Max Holloway defending his Featherweight Championship against Frankie Edgar.