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UFC Prague predictions: Breaking down Blachowicz vs Santos, Struve vs De Lima

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) storms the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, this Saturday (Feb. 23, 2019) by way of the UFC Fight Night 145 mixed martial arts (MMA) event on ESPN+, featuring the light heavyweight slugfest pitting Jan Blachowicz against Thiago Santos.

Joining the 205-pound sluggers will be the heavyweight battle between Stefan Struve and Marcos Rogerio de Lima, in what is sure to be a hard-hitting affair. Sure, neither fighter is in the championship mix, but who doesn't love a good knockout?

Before we take a closer look at those two contests, check out what Patrick Stumberg had to say about the UFC Prague “Prelims” cards by clicking here and here. Odds and betting lines for all of tomorrow’s action can be located here.

Let’s get to work.

205 lbs.: Jan Blachowicz vs. Thiago Santos

Jan Blachowicz

Record: 23-7 | Age: 35 | Betting line: -110
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 9 SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 6’2“ | Reach: 78” | Leg reach: 44”
Stance: Orthodox | Striking accuracy: 446 of 891 (50%)
Ranks: Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt | Takedown attempts: 12 of 24 (50%)

Thiago “Marreta” Santos

Record: 20-6 | Age: 35 | Betting line: -110
Wins: 14 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’2“ | Reach: 76” | Leg reach: 42”
Stance: Orthodox | Striking accuracy: 547 of 1076 (51%)
Ranks: Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt | Takedown attempts: 5 of 19 (37%)

Jan Blachowicz suddenly became a light heavyweight title contender and I have no explanation as to why or how. I guess if we’re basing this on official rankings, his biggest win to date is his 2014 shellacking over Ilir Latifi, followed by a three-round snoozer that turned away Jimi Manuwa roughly one year back. He’s well-rounded and durable and can hang just about anywhere the fight goes, but I don’t think anyone is telling their friends to go back and watch Blachowicz highlights.

Thiago Santos may not be any more talented than his Prague opponent, but he’s certainly been more exciting. I can’t say his resume is the stuff of legend; however, “Marreta” did wipe the floor with Anthony Smith, who is currently fighting for the division title, so there’s that. His gameplan is relatively simply to predict but nonetheless effective. Expect the Brazilian to try to walk forward and punch a hole through Blachowicz. The question for me, is how successful the Pole will be in implementing a countering ground game.

There are two ways this fight will play out: Either Blachowicz will wrestle his way to a boring decision, or Santos will land something clean and turn off the lights. I’ve never been in love with Blachowicz’s gas tank, so the chances of him keeping up the mug-and-slug for 25 minutes seems remote.

Prediction: Santos def. Blachowicz by knockout

265 lbs.: Stefan Struve vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima

Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve

Record: 28-11 | Age: 31 | Betting line: +105
Wins: 8 KO/TKO, 17 SUB, 2 DEC, 1 DQ | Losses: 7 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 7’0“ | Reach: 84” | Leg reach: 48”
Stance: Orthodox | Striking accuracy: 519 of 1134 (46%)
Ranks: Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt | Takedown attempts: 6 of 12 (50%)

Marcos Rogerio “Pezao” De Lima

Record: 16-5-1 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -125
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’1“ | Reach: 75” | Leg reach: 43”
Stance: Orthodox | Striking accuracy: 118 of 217 (54%)
Ranks: Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt | Takedown attempts: 3 of 5 (60%)

Stefan Struve has an 84-inch reach and after nearly 15 years as a pro MMA fighter, still can’t throw an effective jab, which is probably why he’s been knocked out seven times in his career against much shorter opponents. The secret to beating Struve is anything but and this fight was tailor-made for Marcos Rogerio De Lima, a Brazilian bomber who goes batshit crazy in the first round, dumps his tank, then comes out for the second stanza like Jack Torrance at the end of The Shining.

If that’s the case, we have to hope “Skyscraper” can survive the first five minutes. If so, the second-round submission will be available on a silver platter. Regrettably, there is nothing I’ve seen from the seven-footer to leave me feeling confident. De Lima is the older fighter but in so many ways the fresher fighter, and barring an against-type gameplan like he instituted against Adam Wieczorek, I expect “Pezao” to drop bombs until one of them lands. That’s a nice way of saying Struve will get KTFO in round one.

Prediction: De Lima def. Struve by knockout

There you have it. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 145 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the ESPN2 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 11 a.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 2 p.m. ET.

To see who else is fighting at UFC Prague click here.

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