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Jan Blachowicz bests ‘Jacare’ Souza in forgettable UFC Sao Paulo headliner

UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz v Jacare Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

After 25 minutes, Jan Blachowicz was declared the winner in UFC Sao Paulo’s main event opposite Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. But neither came out looking very good.

Fighting after Saturday’s co-main event ended in a split draw thud, Blachowicz and Souza failed to get out of first gear. By the fourth round of a tactical, taxing bout, the crowd at Ginásio do Ibirapuera was more interested in their cell phones than the action in the octagon.

Blachowicz took home a split decision by scores of 48-47 twice while a third judge gave it to Souza by the same score. It was the Polish fighter’s second straight win after a devastating setback against Thiago Santos, but it did little to lift his stock in the public eye, and likely won’t propel him to the title shot he very humbly requested after his victory.

“I want someone from the top,” Blachowicz said. “Maybe a title shot. Why not? Jon (Jones), let’s do this. Give me the title shot because I don’t have the time, maybe three more years. Now or never.”

For the championship rounds of the five-round bout, that was the prevailing wish. Souza consistently put Blachowicz on the back foot before stuffing him against the cage. But he did little with his position after learning early that he couldn’t get the fight to the canvas. Blachowicz banked heavily on the counter as “Jacare” approached, and he was inches away from the telling blow on most occasions. He battered Souza’s lead leg with calve kicks and went to the body frequently.

As the fight progressed, his left foot swelled. Souza’s new corner, renowned coach Andre Pederneiras, screamed at him to attack it.

“My feet always look like this,” Blachowicz later explained with a laugh.

In the fifth and final round, Blachowicz was right on the money with an uppercut that visibly wobbled Souza. But there was no follow-up, like most of the exchanges that came in fits and spurts. The audience waited patiently until they couldn’t.

Souza said afterward that he dealt with an illness in the leadup to the fight and wasn’t feeling like himself. He was crestfallen at the decision loss, which came after a change of camps and weight divisions. With ups and downs at middleweight, he’d hoped to reinvent himself at 205 pounds. Instead, he wound up trending south with consecutive losses after a decision setback against Jack Hermansson in his previous outing.

“Every time it’s a tough fight, it’s a close fight, they never gave me the win,” Souza said.

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