Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz went to war yesterday (April 11, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 64 inside the Krakow Arena in Krakow, Poland.
Manuwa has proven himself to be one of the most powerful strikers in the division. Though he lost his first major step up to Alexander Gustafsson, the knockout artist had a chance to redeem himself opposite Blachowicz.
Blachowicz was given a major opportunity in this bout. Paired off with a fellow striking specialist, Blachowicz could announce himself as a new contender with a victory, something the light heavyweight division greatly needed.
Unfortunately, this slow-paced bout elevated neither man's stock.
Early on, Blachowicz played matador as he circled around the Octagon firing off jabs. Manuwa pressured his opponent, and neither man landed a ton of clean strikes. Then, "Posterboy" moved his opponent up against the fence and began delivering hard knees into the thigh before the two separated.
The two fighters spent much of the round in the clinch, usually with Blachowicz pinned against the fence. While Blachowicz stepped up the pace a bit near the end, it likely wasn't enough to overcome Manuwa's cleaner strikes and Octagon control.
Blachowicz had some nice success to start the round, primarily with his switch kick to the body, but Manuwa forced him into the fence once again. With around two minutes remaining in the round, the two separated briefly, only for Manuwa to force the fight back into the clinch before long.
Overall, the second round could have went to either man, as Blachowicz was slightly more effective with his strikes while Manuwa pinned him into the fence for a decent portion of the round.
Though Manuwa was a bit more aggressive with his punches while closing the distance, there still wasn't a whole lot of action in this round. Blachowicz would shoot a jab out, but it failed to deter Manuwa, who would then attack with his own combination and finish by pushing his opponent into the fence.
Rinse and repeat.
While Manuwa ultimately earned the unanimous decision, it was hardly an impressive performance. Despite his kickboxing experience and lengthy history of knockout wins, Manuwa earned the victory largely by stalling against the fence and landing some knees strikes. It was very frustrating, as Manuwa did quite well whenever he let his hands or kicks go.
Only after the fight did we learn that Manuwa actually fought with a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus, so there is no question his performance was at least somewhat hindered.
Even though it was sloppy win, the Englishman is a top ten light heavyweight and should got a fellow ranked fighter in his next bout, such as Ovince St. Preux.
Blachowicz had some opportunities to make something happen, but he never really pulled the trigger. In addition, it was clear after the first round that circling along the fence would only land him in the clinch, yet Blachowicz did nothing to switch up his strategy as the fight wore on.
Despite the loss, Blachowicz proved he is at least competitive with the best light heavyweights in the world. For his next bout, I'd like to see Blachowicz pair off with another ranked opponent, such as Fabio Maldonado or Rafael Cavalcante.
At UFC Fight Night 64, Jimi Manuwa controlled his opponent en route to a unanimous decision win. Can the knockout artist make a run towards the title?
For complete UFC Fight Night 64 "Gonzaga vs Cro Cop 2" results and play-by-play, click HERE.