Jimi Manuwa entered the Octagon with home country fighter Jan Blachowicz at UFC Fight Night 64 in Krakow, Poland, on Saturday looking to rebound from the first loss of his career. Blachowicz, meanwhile, was making his sophomore UFC start, riding a five-fight winning streak, looking to put a stamp on his entry into the promotion’s light heavyweight division.
It took all three rounds, but Manuwa kept himself in title contention by fighting a smart fight and getting back in the win column.
From the outset, it was clear that Manuwa would be the aggressor, immediately taking the center of the Octagon and constantly pressing forward.
Blachowicz tried to get his jab going early, but Manuwa did a good job from distance, firing off his patented high kicks, and then clinching with the Polish fighter and pressing him into the cage. Once they were up along the fence, it was obvious that Manuwa had the advantage trading knees with Blachowicz, but outscoring him at a pace of about two to one.
This kept up for all three rounds, Blachowicz unable to mount much successful offense other than spurts of power here and there. Manuwa would land some thunderous low kicks, mix in the occasional high kick, and then clinch and back Blachowicz to the fence, wearing him down with pressure and knees.
It was an important step for Manuwa, who rebounded off of a loss to Alexander Gustafsson more than a year ago. He was supposed to have fought Shogun in November, but had to withdraw from the fight due to injury.
That nearly happened again, but Manuwa wouldn’t have it.
“I almost didn’t make it to the fight,” he said after his hand was raised. “I had a bad injury a few weeks ago, but I didn’t pull out.”
Now he’s ready to move on to a Top 10 opponent and fight his way back to the top of the division currently ruled by champion Jon Jones.