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UFC Fight Night 64 fight card: Jimi Manuwa vs Jan Blachowicz fight preview

Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz will hunt for the knockout this Saturday (April 11, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 64 inside the Krakow Arena in Krakow, Poland. In a battle of dangerous strikers, what adjustments must be made for either man in order to claim victory? Find out how below!


Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz will collide this Saturday (April 11, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 64 on UFC Fight Pass from inside the Krakow Arena in Krakow, Poland.

It's been over a year since Manuwa last entered the Octagon. In that bout, he was defeated by top contender Alexander Gustafsson via technical knockout in the second round. Finally back in the cage, Manuwa will look to return to his winning ways.

Blachowicz could be a surprise contender in the barren light heavyweight division. He's got plenty of experience, should be in his prime, and had a very impressive debut at the expense of Ilir Latifi.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters.

Jimi Manuwa

Record: 14-1

Key Wins: Ryan Jimmo (UFC Fight Night 30), Cyrille Diabate (UFC on Fuel TV 7), Kyle Kingsbury (UFC on Fuel TV 5)

Key Losses: Alexander Gustafsson (UFC Fight Night 37)

Keys to Victory: Manuwa is a ridiculously athletic striker, having finished a shocking 13 of his 14 opponents via knockout. While his grappling game is clearly not his strength, his defensive ability has held up pretty well thus far.

Though both men are effective at distance, it would behoove Manuwa to close the distance. Since his opponent relies heavily on kicks and actually has a reach advantage, a kickboxing battle would be fairly risky.

Unlike Ilir Latifi, Manuwa has the offensive striking skills at range to maneuver his way into the clinch or at least force Blachowicz into the fence. If Manuwa is able to close the distance, his clinch is absolutely devastating, as it's very difficult to escape the Englishman's powerful grasp.

From close range, Manuwa can attack with brutal knee strikes, like the ones that shattered Kyle Kingsbury's face. Plus, he can break away and fire off punches that are very likely to land, as Blachowicz won't be able to create distance quickly enough to avoid them all.

For a fighter like Manuwa, it doesn't take many opportunities like that.

Jan Blachowicz

Record: 18-3

Key Wins: Ilir Latifi (UFC Fight Night 53), Houston Alexander (KSW 20), Goran Reljic (KSW 22)

Key Losses: Rameau Sokoudjou (KSW 15)

Keys to Victory: Having scored six knockout wins and seven submissions, Blachowicz is a very well-rounded mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. For the most part, Blachowicz likes to kickbox from range, like he did en route to an early liver kick finish of Latifi in his UFC debut.

While Manuwa is undoubtedly a nasty striker, that doesn't mean Blachowicz should abandon his kickboxing game. The Polish fighter has never been knocked out and is the both more experienced and technically superior.

However, Blachowicz needs to engage on his terms. By attacking with quick jabs and long kicks, Blachowicz can wait for opportunities to step forward with more powerful strikes.

It's very important that Blachowicz avoids any straight exchanges of punches -- Manuwa's power must be respected -- as well as any attempts by the "Poster Boy" to close distance. For the most part, Blachowicz can rely on his footwork to keep a safe distance.

That said, Blachowicz could also attempt to surprise Manuwa with a takedown attempt. He hasn't hunted for submissions very recently, but considering that Manuwa's bottom game appears to consist of squeezing really hard and hoping for the best, it certainly couldn't hurt.

Bottom Line: The UFC light heavyweight division is desperate for new contenders, in part due to the serious drop off after the top five.

Manuwa may have lost to Gustafsson in his last scrap, but that's not unforgivable. If he can return to victory here in impressive fashion against a talented opponent, the top 10-ranked knockout artist could be just a couple wins away from a title shot.

On the other hand, defeat likely establishes where Manuwa's ceiling sits. He's 35 years old, so it's basically now or never in terms of defeating elite opposition.

This fight could catapult Blachowicz to the top of the division in an instant. In that regard, it's a shame this is only taking place on Fight Pass. Regardless, Blachowicz would likely find himself in the top 10 with a win, and he wouldn't be far from a title eliminator match up.

Similar to Manuwa, Blachowicz should be in his prime right now. If he can't take out Manuwa -- an admittedly flawed fighter -- than it's unlikely he's the new contender that the division needs.

At UFC Fight Night 64, Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz will collide in a pivotal light heavyweight match up. Which fighter will have his hand raised?

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