Curtis Blaydes proved he’s more than just a wrestler in the main event of Saturday night’s UFC Raleigh.
“Razor” was booked to meet former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, a dangerous striker with heavy hands, in five rounds of action in Raleigh, NC, on Jan. 25, and failed in many takedown attempts in the opening round. When Blaydes finally managed to clinch, he accidentally landed a punch to the groin and had to let go the position.
“Cigano” was clearly waiting for the perfect window to land his right hand, but missed a huge uppercut in the final seconds of the opening round before eating a good right hand to the face.
As the second stanza started, Blaydes once again came up short in securing a takedown, but hurt the former champion with a massive right hand, following up with three knees and several punches before Dan Miragliotta decided he had seen enough.
“Going against a guy like Junior, a legitimate legend, one of the OGs of the sport… Being able to just share the Octagon with him was an honor,” Blaydes said after the victory.
On a three-fight winning streak with back-to-back second-round finishes over “Cigano” and Shamil Abdurakhimov, Blaydes believes he has done enough to secure a chance for the UFC heavyweight championship against Stipe Miocic.
“I want that title shot. I’m next,” Blaydes said. “I’ve showed you I got the wrestling, I’ve showed you I got the hands. I don’t know what else I gotta do. I want that title shot”
The co-main event had Michael Chiesa facing his biggest test to date in the welterweight division, and excelling against former 155-pound champion and 170-pound contender Rafael dos Anjos.
Chiesa took dos Anjos’ back and went for a rear-naked choke after getting both hooks in, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt managed to escape eventually. Chiesa tried to get the full mount and work on a guillotine choke, but dos Anjos’ easily denied it.
Dos Anjos switched things up in the second, clearly bothering him Chiesa with several kicks to his lead leg. Chiesa took dos Anjos down early and with ease in the final round, trying to secure an americana before his opponent moved to 50-50 guard. Back to full guard, Chiesa landed punches until the clock ran out.
Victorious via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) and now riding a three-fight winning streak as a welterweight, Chiesa wasted no time in his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Daniel Cormier, calling for a fight with former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington.
“It feels great,” Chiesa said. “But I’d like to cut this interview short and tell my next opponent, Colby Covington, I’ll see you in July.”
Alex Perez scored another impressive submission victory in the UFC in the main card of UFC Raleigh. Matched-up against Jordan Espinosa, the 27-year-old flyweight quickly took his opponent to the ground. Perez started working on an arm-triangle choke from opposite half guard and landed a few elbows to the thigh to create space and jump over, but the choke already was so deep that Espinoza went out.
Up to 5-1 in the UFC with the quick victory, Perez said he’s interested in facing Askar Askarov next. Askarov recently defeated Tim Elliot via decision at UFC 246.
Angela Hill managed to get her first winning streak in the UFC on Saturday. Four months after stopping Ariane Carnelossi in Mexico City, the former Invicta FC strawweight champion showed a vicious ground and pound to finish Hannah Cifers in the second round.
Hill and Cifers traded on the feet in the opening stanza, but Hill switched things up in the second, securing the takedown and moving to full mount to land elbows and punches. Cifers attempted to escape, but Hill kept attacking until referee Kevin MacDonald stopped the bout with 34 seconds left.
The main card opener saw Jamahal Hill remain undefeated as a professional with an unanimous decision win over Darko Stosic. Very relaxed on the feet, the Contender Series alum targeted Stosic’s body in the first couple rounds with punches and kicks, landing jabs at will.
Stosic’s corner warned him “if you don’t throw anything you’re not going to win this fight” and he got back more active for the final five minutes, but couldn’t do much with the four takedowns he landed. In the end, all three judges declared Hill the winner (29-27 x3), improving to 7-0 in MMA.