Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back at it again tonight (Sat., Nov. 16, 2019) as UFC Fight Night 164 is set to go down from inside Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The ESPN+-streamed event will feature a light heavyweight showdown as Jan Blachowicz welcomes Ronaldo Souza to the 205-pound division. In the co-main event, Mauricio Rua will face Paul Craig, also at 205 pounds.
Blachowicz was on the cusp of earning his first-ever shot at a UFC world title before he ran into the hard fists of Thiago Santos this past February (see it), ending his four-fight win streak. While Santos went on to fight (and lose to) division champion Jon Jones, Blachowicz was forced to pick up the pieces and start over again. In his comeback fight, he welcomed former middleweight king, Luke Rockhold, to the 205-pound weight class at UFC 239 this past July. And it didn’t take long for the Polish bruiser to remind everyone just how dangerous he can be, as he violently knocked out Rockhold early in the second frame to get him back on track.
Now, Blachowicz will welcome yet another former middleweight to his division when he faces Jacare, a man who simply couldn’t get over the hump at 185 pounds. “Jacare” recently decided it was time for a change, as the submission specialist opted to go up in weight to compete in the light heavyweight division for the first time in his career. Since 2017, Souza has been unable to find any type of consistency, alternating wins and losses, including dropping his last bout to Jack Hermansson.
“Jacare” was never a small middleweight by any means, but his move up to 205 pounds should be interesting, as the big men there pack some serious power in their hands. That said, Souza’s bread-and-butter is the ground game, and he can submit anyone on the planet, big or small. This fight against Blachowicz is a toss up because Blachowicz has the power to end Souza’s journey and perhaps send him back down to 185 pounds as quickly as he came up. But if “Jacare” can score the win here, it would give him the confidence he needs to stay put and start a run toward the title.
Shogun will look for his second-straight win when he faces Paul Craig in the revamped co-main event. Winner of four of five, “Shogun” is showing that he can still bang with the big boys, though he knows that his career could be winding down. A win over Craig won’t exactly set his resume on fire, but it will give him another win and the confidence to keep going in search of bigger and better fights. Known as one of the greatest 205-pound fighters ever, Rua has left fans with plenty of highlights to go back and watch. That said, even at 37 the man keeps winning. There really isn’t much else for him to prove in the fight game, as he is already a legend and will forever be a fan-favorite. But his willingness to keep going — and succeed — shows he’s simply a true fighter at heart.
No knock on Craig, but Rua is a former world champion for PRIDE and UFC, so "Shogun" should be getting bigger names at this point in his career. Granted, Craig was a late replacement, but he was stepping in for Sam Alvey. Need I say more? Craig is another man who has failed to find consistency during his time with UFC, but he does possess a proven grappling arsenal and seems to have the knack for finishing fights when he’s just about to lose. That’s a dangerous recipe to face if you’re a veteran on the way out like “Shogun.”
Headlining the undercard is a 170-pound collision between James Krause and Sergio Moraes. Sergio is in desperate need of a win after dropping two in a row, while Krause is riding a five-fight win streak. It’s matchups like these that truly puzzle me, as Krause should be lobbying for a bigger name with a similar win streak to up his own stock. This seems like one of those cases where a fighter simply takes what is given to him with little-to-no resistance. While I can appreciate a fighter who will take on any and all comers, at some point asking for something bigger to help your own cause is super necessary.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Rua was originally set to face Alvey in the co-headlining act, but after “Smilin’” suffered a broken hand, he was replaced by Craig on just several weeks notice. Jack Marshman withdrew from his scheduled bout against Markus Perez for undisclosed reasons. Furthermore, Duda Santana was expected to face Tracy Cortez after her original opponent, Leah Watson, bowed out of the fight, but Santana came down with the injury bug and was eventually replaced by Vanessa Melo. And after Priscila Cachoeira tested positive for a banned diuretic, she was replaced by Veronica Macedo to take on Ariane Lipski. That said, a day before the fight, Macedo was ruled medically unfit to compete, and she was replaced by Isabella de Padua.
Aside from Alvey’s busted up hand, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was also bounced from his fight against Trevor Smith, who will now face Makhmud Muradov at UFC on ESPN 7 on Dec. 7, 2019.
Antonio Arroyo will bring his five-fight win streak into the Octagon for the first time after earning his shot on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS). His opponent, Andre Muniz, is also a DWTNCS alum, and is the owner of four-straight wins and will also be making his official UFC debut.
Also, after earning her UFC contract on the latest season of DWTNCS, Tracy Cortez will make her debut sooner than expected, as she agreed to step in and replace Leah Watson against Duda Santana, who was later replaced by Vanessa Melo. Plus — while not under the best circumstances — Isabella de Padua will make her UFC debut on just one day’s notice to face Ariane Lipski.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Aside from the aforementioned bout between Moraes and Krause, an intriguing lightweight scrap between Bobby Green and Francisco Trinaldo will also go down on the “Prelims.” Green came into the UFC with a ton of expectations but has failed to deliver. In his last six outings, he has only one win and a draw to go along with four defeats. Trinaldo, meanwhile, is one of those guys that could never catch his big break and put into title consideration even after reeling off seven wins in a row. His streak was snapped by Kevin Lee, and he has gone an average 2-2 since then.
Also, Warlly Alves — the only man to defeat former interim UFC welterweight champion Colby Covington — will look for back-to-back wins when he faces Randy Brown, who is a mere 2-2 in his last four fights inside the Octagon.
Newcomer Tracy Cortez will look to make the most of her opportunity when she faces Vanessa Melo on short notice, while Renan Barao searches for a much-needed victory against Douglas Silva de Andrade.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Remember when Renan Barao was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world? It seems like it was ages ago that the Brazilian bomber was at the top of the Bantamweight ladder, owner of a 31-fight win streak, and three straight 135-pound title defenses deep. But after running into T.J. Dillashaw (twice), Barao simply hasn’t been the same. Like, at all. He has lost seven of nine and is currently riding a horrid four-fight losing streak, with his last win coming in 2016 against Phillipe Nover. Now, he will look to avoid his fifth-straight loss when he takes on Douglas Silva de Andrade on the undercard. Another loss will almost certainly give “Baron” his walking papers. Just ask Gilbert Melendez. It truly is one of the worst downfalls in all of MMA.
Interest Level: 6.5/10
It’s a decent card that has a couple of pivotal matchups, including one that hasn’t been getting a ton of love between Charles Oliveira and Jared Gordon. Charles recently made the bold proclamation that he can be the one to dethrone Khabib Nurmagomedov. I guess a five-fight win streak can give you that sort of confidence. That said, Oliveira has been putting in the work, and if he can get consecutive win number six tonight, he’ll bump himself up in the rankings and get closer to a shot at the strap.
Can “Jacare” find new life at 205 pounds? Will “Shogun” prove that he is still has gas left in his tank? Or will Craig pick up a much-need staple victory? All that and more will be answered when fists and kicks start flying in Sao Paulo!
UFC Fight Night 164 Full Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 164 Main Event:
205 lbs.: Jan Blachowicz vs. Ronaldo Souza
UFC Fight Night 164 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Mauricio Rua vs. Paul Craig
155 lbs.: Jared Gordon vs. Charles Oliveira
185 lbs.: Antonio Arroyo vs. Andre Muniz
185 lbs.: Markus Perez vs. Wellington Turman
UFC Fight Night 164 “Prelims” Under Card on ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: James Krause vs. Sergio Moraes
145 lbs.: Eduardo Garagorri vs. Ricardo Ramos
155 lbs.: Bobby Green vs. Francisco Trinaldo
170 lbs.: Warlley Alves vs. Randy Brown
145 lbs.: Renan Barao vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade
125 lbs.: Ariane Lipski vs. Isabela de Padua
135 lbs.: Tracy Cortez vs. Vanessa Melo
*Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to change.
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