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UFC Fight Night 145 card: Thiago Santos vs Jan Blachowicz full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight kickboxers Thiago Santos and Jan Blachowicz will clash TONIGHT (Feb. 23, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 145 from inside 02 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.

Santos jumped up the additional 20 pounds to make his Light Heavyweight debut a couple fights back, and the move has paid off quickly. Already ranked at No. 6 in the world and closing in on title contention, “Marreta” has a chance here to secure the first title shot of his UFC career. Blachowicz is in a similar position. Though he’s been a Light Heavyweight since his career’s inception, Blachowicz made some important improvements a couple years back. Since then, he’s thrived and put together a quality win streak, resulting in the Pole being similarly close to the title for the first time.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Thiago Santos

Record: 20-6
Key Wins: Jimi Manuwa (UFC 231), Anthony Smith (UFC Fight Night 125), Jack Hermansson (UFC Fight Night 119), Eryk Anders (UFC Fight Night 137), Elias Theodorou (UFC Fight Night 80)
Key Losses: Gegard Mousasi (UFC 200), David Branch (UFC Fight Night 128), Uriah Hall (UFC 175)
Keys to Victory: Santos is a destroyer. The Brazilian throws brutally hard kicks and power punches non-stop until his opponents crumble into dust. For such an offense-first fighter, Santos is able to maintain a remarkable pace late into the fight, which is really a major asset.

Pace is key here for Santos. A great deal of Blachowicz’s career renaissance can be credited to improved conditioning, but he still cannot match up with Santos’ pace. That’s especially true when considering just how draining a few well-placed body kicks can be when landed by someone with Santos’ impact.

Santos should not look for a technical battle here. Like he did opposite Manuwa, Santos should make this fight chaos from the first bell. Given his offensive potency and deep gas tank, it’s unlikely his foe will be able to stand up to his onslaught even despite his toughness.

Jan Blachowicz

Record: 23-7
Key Wins: Jimi Manuwa (UFC Fight Night 127), Ilir Latifi (UFC Fight Night 53), Nikita Krylov (UFC Fight Night 136), Jared Cannonier (UFC on FOX 26)
Key Losses: Alexander Gustafsson (UFC Fight Night 93), Jimi Manuwa (UFC Fight Night 64), Corey Anderson (UFC 191)
Keys to Victory: Blachowicz is a rather technical and well-rounded Light Heavyweight. The Polish athlete usually works as a counter striker, but he’s perhaps best known for his own powerful kicks.

Unlike many of Santos’ past opponents, Blachowicz can certainly kick with the Brazilian, at least for a time. That’s important, as Blachowicz is not completely outgunned at range, meaning he doesn’t have to flee from that distance. Instead, he can kick with Santos and wait for the Brazilian to come to him with punches.

In the pocket, Blachowicz is the far sharper puncher.

Still, it’s a risky game trying to out-strike a man over five rounds while at a conditioning disadvantage. Blachowicz might want to take the alternate route of catching Santos off-balance — not difficult given his wildness — and gaining top position. Last time out, Blachowicz proved his top game rather suffocating, and there’s a chance he could land another submission in a reasonably similar match up.

Bottom Line: This will be an all-action affair with potential title implications.

Assuming Jon Jones dismantles Anthony Smith as he is expected to do, there is no man more deserving of a title shot than the victor of this match up. Either man would be on a multi-fight win streak with at least two recent Top 10 wins to his name. In a division that’s been dominated for so long by one man, that’s certainly worthy of a title opportunity.

The silver lining here for the defeated man is that Jones doesn’t seem to be going anywhere right now and wants to defend his title very actively. That could change at any point, but until then, any Top 10-ranked fighter who has not yet lost to “Bones” is only a win or two away from a chance to step into the cage with him.

At UFC Fight Night 145, Thiago Santos and Jan Blachowicz will throw down in pursuit of a chance at gold. Which man will have his hand raised?

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