SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – NOVEMBER 14: (L-R) Jan Blachowicz of Poland and Ronaldo Souza Jacare of Brazil … [+]
Jan Blachowicz was closing in on a UFC light heavyweight title fight when he ran into Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC Fight Night 145. Blachowicz was on a four-fight winning streak headed into that contest. Unfortunately for him, Santos scored a TKO win in the third round. With that, Santos moved on to a July matchup with 205-pound champion Jon Jones. Blachowicz was matched up against former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.
Santos lost a split decision to Jones, Blachowicz earned himself a “Performance of the Night” bonus for his second-round knockout win over Rockhold. After that victory, Blachowicz wanted that matchup against Jones that escaped him earlier in the year. Instead, Blachowicz faces another middleweight who is moving up to light heavyweight. That man is Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. He and Blachowicz meet in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 164.
This matchup is a big test for Souza. Blachowicz seems tailor-made to give Souza fits, especially if the bout goes into the fourth or fifth round. Souza has relied on his strength, power and world-class jiu jitsu skills as a middleweight. Blachowicz is an excellent counterstriker and he has nine submission wins to his name. He also has decent takedown defense and he can be a patient fighter when he needs to be. On paper, it seems as if Blachowicz has Souza covered on every one of his strong points.
Souza, who is a former Strikeforce middleweight champion, is one of the best grapplers the UFC has ever seen. However, he always seemed to get one fight away from a UFC title shot before suffering a loss. He’s never lost two contests in a row in his 34-fight career, but he could find himself in that position if he loses to Blachowicz on Saturday.
The odds favor Blachowicz in this matchup.
UFC Fight Night 164 takes place at Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The entire card streams on ESPN+. Prelims begin at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the main card at 8 p.m. ET.