PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina played host to Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. dos Santos event. A heavyweight bout between No. 3 ranked Curtis Blaydes and former champion Junior dos Santos headlined the 12-bout fight card.
Blaydes, an accomplished wrestler, was expected to try and take the fight to the ground the first chance that he got. Dos Santos wanted to keep the fight standing. Blaydes did look for takedowns throughout the opening frame, but dos Santos defended each attempt. When he was unable to put dos Santos on his back, Blaydes displayed his striking. His right hand connected a few times in the closing minute of the first round.
As Blaydes tried to close the distance, dos Santos would unload a lead uppercut. He did it several times and it would eventually be what his undoing. As dos Santos loaded up, Blaydes connected with a right hand early in the second frame that staggered the former champion. Blaydes quickly clinched and delivered knees to the body before finishing with a series of right hands.
“I feel great,” said Blaydes following the TKO win. “Going against a guy like Junior, a legitimate legend, one of the OGs of the sport, just to share the octagon with him was an honor. To get the W, in the main event, and the way we done it, I couldn’t ask for nothing better.”
With the win, Blaydes is riding a three-fight winning streak and wants to fight for the title in his next outing.
“I want that title shot,” said Blaydes. “I’ve shown that I’ve got the wrestling. I’ve shown that I’ve got the hands. I don’t know what else I have to do, but I want a title shot.”
In the co-main event, former lightweight titleholder and No. 5 ranked welterweight Rafael dos Anjos faced The Ultimate Fighter 15 winner Michael Chiesa in a 170-pound bout. Dos Anjos was looking to rebound from a loss to Leon Edwards in his last outing while Chiesa hoped to leap into the welterweight rankings with a win.
Chiesa entered the bout with a game plan and stuck to it. He planned to pressure dos Anjos, close the distance and get the fight to the canvas. He was able to drag the Brazilian to the canvas in the opening round and takes his back. Dos Anjos worked his way back to his feet but Chiesa secured another takedown at the end of the round.
Dos Anjos had success with leg kicks, but was unable to keep from being taken down. Chiesa secured takedowns in each round. In the third frame, dos Anjos was unable to get up off the bottom. After three rounds of fighting, Chiesa was declared the winning by unanimous decision. In his post-fight interview, Chiesa called out former title challenger Colby Covington.
“It feels good, but I’d like to cut this interview short and announce my next opponent. Colby Covington, I’ll see you in July,” said Chiesa.
In flyweight action, Alex Perez secured a first round submission win over Jordan Espinosa. Perez took Espinosa down and locked on an arm-triangle choke. After some repositioning, Espinosa went unconscious. Angela Hill defeated Hannah Cifers by TKO late in the second round of their strawweight bout. Hill secured a takedown and advanced to the mount position. She postured up and delivered elbows and punches until the referee had seen enough.
“I fell like I’m on a four-fight win streak. I got robbed last year. I need to finish fights. That’s the only way I can secure the win. It’s the only way I can guarantee that I’m taking that win bonus home, so that’s that I’m going to do,” said Hill after the win.
“I’ve been training harder, training my ground harder, training my sweeps harder. It’s time to used everything not just Muay Thai.”