Former Light Heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz, was tasked with introducing former Middleweight kingpin, Alex Pereira, to the 205-pound weight class TONIGHT (Sat., July 29, 2023) in the pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event of UFC 291, which took place inside Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Blachowicz — looking to get the bad taste out of his mouth since that weird Magomed Ankalaev draw — was eager to get back into the divisional title chase. And, with a win over Pereira, the Polish powerhouse was all but guaranteed a shot at the vacant strap (details here). Pereira, meanwhile, was considered something of a magician (or, sanctioned cheater if you ask Joe Rogan), cutting an insane amount of weight to make 185 pounds. Now, “Poatan” was competing in a title eliminator in his new divisional debut.
Both fighters had significant strengths over the other — Blachowicz with his more well-rounded style and Pereira with his ridiculous striking. In the end, it was Pereira who was able to keep Blachowicz off him after a tough first round en route to a controversial split decision win (see scorecard here).
Both fighters met in the center of the cage and with 10 seconds barely melted off the clock, he was in on a single-leg takedown, pressing “Poatan” up against the cage in an attempt to get the fight horizontal. Pereira did well, putting Jan in a standing guillotine choke and hitting him with knees and rabbit punches as Blachowicz was determined to score the takedown. And he did at the two-minute mark, but Pereira was able to get back to his feet, only for Blachowicz to maneuver behind him and lock in a rear-naked choke. Pereira, on one knee, fought the hands well with Blchowicz draped on his back. He started to post with his right hand and Blachowicz would try to sink in another choke — and they stayed in that position for about two full minutes because Blachowicz had the body lock tight. Pereira gave up on the post and went down on two elbows, giving Blachowicz more room to work on his back. And that’s how the round ended — a big one for the former 205-pound kingpin.
Pereira opened the second stanza with a nice low kick, which Blachowicz returned fire. Pereira started to work a nice jab, with Blachowicz responding with the same. Blachowicz was able to keep Pereira at a good distance with his low kicks, but Pereira was doing the same. Nice left hook from Blachowicz, then a right hand, which he followed up with another takedown. Pereira was now on his back, with Blachowicz on half-guard, unloading some ground-and-pound. Pereira landed a nice elbow from bottom as he tried to wall walk to his feet. Pereira pushed down Blachowicz’s head and used it to get back to his feet with 90 seconds on the clock. The two jockeyed for position along the cage, with Blachowicz landing a solid knee to the body. Pereira was able to finally break free with about a minute remaining on the clock and Blachowicz looked exhausted. Pereira started to work him over in the clinch as Blachowicz covered up along the cage. Big left hook from Pereira, then a right hand as the buzzer blared.
Third and final round and Pereira looks like the far fresher fighter ... and perhaps down two rounds on the judges scorecards. At the very least, it was tied one apiece, making the final five minutes critical. Blachowicz with some early low kicks, then a left hand, which Pereira countered harder. Blachowicz’s lead leg was a total mess — it looked like ground beef. But, he still used it to kick Pereira in the belly ... twice. Pereira was bouncing, fresh as a daisy, while Blachowicz appeared to be fading hard. Pereira being very cautious with his attack, perhaps not wanting to run into something unexpected like he did against Israel Adesanya. Blachowicz barreled in for a lazy takedown, which Pereira cast aside with ease. Nice inside low kick from Blachowicz, but Pereira fired back with a hard shot upstairs that the Pole acknowledged was good. Nice little combination from Blachowicz late, but Pereira was in cruise control ... until a final Blachowicz takedown with 30 seconds on the clock. He was unable to do much with it, though, and they headed to the judges s
Yep, still scary. But, he will have much more work to do on the ground with his mentor, Glover Teixeira, if he wants to continue winning inside the Octagon at the highest level.
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