Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will look to regain his divisional footing later tonight (Sat., Jan 25, 2020) at UFC Fight Night 166 live on ESPN+ from inside PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, when he meets wrestling-based contender Curtis Blaydes in the main event.
This will be the seventh-straight main event bid for dos Santos, who is coming off a disappointing knockout loss to heavyweight sensation Francis Ngannou this past June. Over the course of those last six headlining acts, “Cigano” has compiled an admirable 4-2 record inside of the Octagon, including finishes over Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa.
Dos Santos, 35, needed some time off to recover from those main event wars and also a dangerously infected leg, but the former UFC champion is all healed up and ready to do what he does best.
“This is what I love to do,” dos Santos told UFC.com. “I feel great when I have a fight. So that’s why I accepted to fight Curtis Blaydes now. Soon after all the surgeries I had on my leg because when I don’t have a challenge in my life. I feel bad and things don’t happen in a good way in my life. So I want to have a challenge.
“When they offered me, Curtis Blaydes, I didn’t realize he was third in the rankings. I didn’t even think that he hasn’t lost to anyone besides Francis Ngannou.
“I know he’s a tough fighter and he has a very boring game. The kind of game that I hate. But, it makes the challenge even more exciting for me,” he added. “It makes me more excited to go out there and knock him out or even submit him. Maybe it’s a good opportunity for me to go there and use my jiu-jitsu.”
Blaydes, 28, may have what many people consider to be a “boring game,” but the power wrestler has been a nightmare for opposing heavyweights since his UFC inception nearly four years ago. “Razor” has sliced and diced his way to a 7-2 (1 NC) record inside of the Octagon, losing to the previously mentioned Ngannou twice. That’s pretty impressive considering Blaydes has faced notable heavyweight veterans like Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt, and Aleksei Oleinik.
It’s really not a great matchup of styles for dos Santos, who comes into this main event clash a significant betting underdog, but the Brazilian veteran has dealt with much more throughout his UFC career. “Cigano” also still possesses the one-punch knockout power that made him famous so many years ago so he should be able to hurt Blaydes if the opportunity presents itself.
What say you, Maniacs? Will JDS bypass the wrestling of Blaydes to score another UFC knockout?
Let’s hear it!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 166 fight card on Saturday, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.