Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight bruisers Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz squared off last night (March 17, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 127 inside the 02 Arena in London, England.
Now an established UFC veteran deep in his career, Manuwa has proven incapable of winning pivotal title eliminator matchups. Manuwa fell in his previous bout to Volkan Oezdemir in one such example, but he’s been quite successful in all other matches and hoped to bounce back here.
Meanwhile, Blachowicz has looked better than ever in his previous two appearances, Conditioning issues caused Blachowicz to lose four of five fights prior to his 2017 win streak, including a forgettable loss to “Poster Boy.” With his new and improved gas tank, Blachowicz aimed for a better result.
Manuwa came out pressuring and swinging, showing little intention of allowing this fight to go to a decision a second time. Aside from the wide hooks, Manuwa also powered his way forward with heavy kicks, which knocked Blachowicz backward even when blocked.
As the round wore on, Manuwa settled down a bit, working behind the jab and heavy low kicks. Blachowicz looked for counters and returned kicks, but he was firmly on his back foot. As Manuwa advanced, however, a Blachowicz uppercut from the Southpaw stance stunned the Englishman.
Blachowicz pursued the finish and dropped his foe, but Manuwa managed to recover and survive. However, the damage was done, as Manuwa’s nose bled freely and he clearly lost the opening frame.
Blachowicz’s jab landed with regularity to start the second, as Manuwa was a bit more hesitant. However, a hard left to the mid-section saw Manuwa storm back into the fight with some confidence, as he went back on the offensive. Before long, both men were landing power shots, and it seemed either could go down.
Smartly, Blachowicz drove into the clinch to help ensure it wasn’t him. When the two separated, it was Manuwa who advanced, working with some good lead hand strikes. Near the end of the round, Manuwa blasted his foe with a high kick, but Blachowicz somehow survived the strike.
It was very possibly tied up with five minutes remaining.
Blachowicz seemed to catch a second wind a bit, as he moved well to start the third, jabbing and kicking well. Both men landed in another violent exchange, but Blachowicz’s jab controlled the action.
For five minutes, Blachowicz did an excellent job of manipulating range. His jab repeatedly interrupted Manuwa’s advance, and Blachowicz countered with wide hooks and uppercuts whenever his foe fell out of position. All the while, he found opportunities to mix sharp kicks to the body, and Blachowicz did a great job of checking Manuwa’s low kicks.
Blachowicz finished the round with a clean takedown, securing the win completely.
Blachowicz’s career revival has been incredible. Frankly, I — along with most others it seemed — gave up all hope for Blachowicz after he utterly battered Patrick Cummins before gassing so badly that he allowed an ugly comeback.
His conditioning is largely fixed. He definitely got tired in this bout, but it was an absolute war, so that’s fairly forgivable. More important is that Blachowicz needed to win the third round to score the decision victory, and he was able to do that masterfully. Blachowicz has long had this skill set, and he’s finally able to put it on display.
A deeper gas tank has moved Blachowicz from a fighter on the chopping block to top 10 contender. After this win, Blachowicz is in the mix, and a rematch with Ilir Latifi might make sense next for the two unlikely contenders.
As for Manuwa, he’s not quite durable enough to be a consistently successful brawler. Furthermore, Manuwa has shown a weakness in the past for uppercuts and knees up the middle, and he did nothing to improve upon that flaw here. Over and over, Blachowicz fired a looping uppercut as Manuwa advanced, and Manuwa did little to defend but flinch.
Given his age, an eventual rubber match is possible, but Manuwa is unlikely to ever contend.
Last night, Jan Blachowicz avenged his loss to Jimi Manuwa in the best performance of his UFC career. Who should the Polish athlete face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 127 “Werdum vs. Volkov” results and play-by-play, click HERE!