Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, last night (Sat., Feb. 15, 2020) for UFC Fight Night 167. In the main event, a Light Heavyweight rematch between Jan Blachowicz and Corey Anderson carried some title implications. Otherwise, it was an event designed to highlight prospects and action fighters, which often makes for a fun night of fights!
Let’s take a closer look at the best techniques and performances of the night:
Last night’s main event didn’t last particularly long, but there are some definite takeaways nonetheless.
Perhaps most important, it appears that Jan Blachowicz is indeed next in line for a title shot. It somewhat upsets me how quickly the idea of a Dominick Reyes rematch has been passed over, but it is difficult to deny Blachowicz. He was tasked with delivering an incredible moment, and the Pole gifted us a brutal knockout.
Speaking of, Anderson was fighting decently well, moving his head and working to establish the jab early. However, he made a truly critical error: throwing a naked low kick from within the pocket. It’s one thing throw a quick low kick without setup when the opponent is far away, unlikely to do much other than absorb the low kick or back away. That’s low risk.
Anderson didn’t do that. Instead, he stepped forward deep and threw the kick standing right in front of Blachowicz. He tried to duck his head off the center line a bit, but it was far too little to make up for the error in distance. Blachowicz read the attack perfectly and was able to load up and deliver a monstrous counter.
The Worst Illegal Strike In Quite Some Time
Kazula Vargas was manhandling Brok Weaver.
The Mexican athlete bullied his opponent from the first bell, charging at him with wild kicks and lunging punches. Weaver didn’t seem to like it, absorbing some heavy shots before winding up with his back to the fence. Vargas then powered his foe to the mat, where he largely controlled his foe from top position. Weaver seemed confused on how to get back to his feet, resigning himself to attempting submissions from his back that did not go anywhere.
Then, Vargas obliterated his opponent with an illegal knee, straight to the face while Vargas’ butt was to the mat. It couldn’t have been more flagrant — just an absolutely terrible decision with no conceivable reasoning behind it.
Old Fashion Brawl
Daniel Rodriguez and Tim Means threw down.
At first, the bout appeared to be going the course of past Means vs. debuting opponent bouts. Rodriguez flashed a sharp jab, but otherwise it was Means walking his foe toward the fence, working combinations, and chopping the lead leg. “The Dirty Bird” even threw in an early double leg takedown for good measure.
Everything changed when Rodriguez landed a massive left hand at the very last second of the first round. Means hit his hands and knees face-first, barely conscious and surely just one more punch away from a referee stoppage. Fortunately for the New Mexico-native, the round was up, and he was allowed a full minute to recover.
Unfortunately for Means, that knockdown gave Rodriguez all the confidence needed to shine opposite a longtime UFC veteran. Suddenly, it was Rodriguez leading the dance, using that sharp jab to take angles and bomb Means with his left hand. Means was still with it and landing some tricky shots of his own, which made it all the more impressive when another left sent Means stumbling for a takedown.
Rodriguez wrapped up a power guillotine and forced a frantic tap from Means, ending a very impressive debut with style points.
- Ray Borg defeats Rogerio Bontorin via unanimous decision: Ray Borg’s offensive takedown-chaining and back-taking skills are excellent. His weight-cutting skills suck.
- John Dodson defeat Nathaniel Wood via third-round knockout: Dodson can be a frustrating man to watch at this point in his career. He operates as a low-volume counter striker, relying solely on his left hand to do damage. Well, that left hand landed huge this time, as Wood grew a bit too confident after a solid opening 10 minutes. Wood fired a cross and pushed forward, but a back step and overhand left from Dodson landed directly on the jaw, sending the prospect to the mat.
- Merab Dvalishvili defeats Casey Kenney via unanimous decision: Dvalishvili is no perfect fighter, but he’s a difficult out for any Bantamweight on the planet. His attributes are ridiculous, an endless gas tank and iron jaw that never seems to notice any strike thrown his way. He maintained a ridiculous pace as usual against Kenny, kicking, spinning, and wrestling constantly for 15 full minutes. Kenney’s more technically refined kickboxing and own excellent grappling skills kept the first five minutes close, but after the opening round, Dvalishvili pulled away. The Georgian could easily be 5-0 inside the Octagon under a different officiating crew (one split-decision loss and one controversial submission stoppage went against him), and his wild wrestling style makes him an entertaining dark horse contender at 135 lbs.
- Raulian Paiva defeats Mark de la Rosa via second-round knockout: 24-year-old Paiva was winless in his first two trips to the Octagon, but the Brazilian had also shown a great deal of talent in those losses. This time around, that talent translated to a victory. From the first bell, Paiva stalked his opponent, looking to find a home for his right hand. De la Rosa scored some hard counter shots, but Paiva simply walked through them, and his own power shots landed with a much heavier impact. He’s a large Flyweight with well-rounded skills, definitely still one to watch moving forward.
For complete UFC Fight Night 167 “Anderson vs. Blachowicz 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE!