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Curtis Blaydes has become a grave threat to the rest of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division.
The Elevation Fight Team export brought down former champion Junior dos Santos with punches in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 166 headliner on Saturday at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. His best days clearly behind him, dos Santos (21-7, 15-6 UFC) bit the dust 66 seconds into Round 2.
Blaydes (13-2, 8-2 UFC) whiffed on all six of his takedown attempts and instead turned to his ancillary skills. He backed up dos Santos with a number of clean right hands in the first round, then cracked the code in the second. Blaydes countered an errant uppercut from the Brazilian with an overhand right that marked the beginning of the end. The impact wobbled dos Santos and left him defenseless against a burst of follow-up knee strikes and punches that forced referee Dan Miragliotta to act.
Rejuvenated Chiesa Upsets Dos Anjos
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 winner Michael Chiesa announced his arrival as a welterweight contender, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event. All three cageside judges scored it for Chiesa (17-4, 10-4 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Dos Anjos (30-13, 18-11 UFC) spun his wheels, and outside of several kicks to the Sikjitsu standout’s lower leg, he did little to leave his mark on the fight. Chiesa was relentless in his pursuit of the clinch, executed well-timed takedowns in all three rounds, applied maximum pressure from top position and avoided a few submission attempts—none of them were close to being completed—from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
Chiesa has pieced together three straight wins since moving to 170 pounds.
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Perez Arm-Triangle Sleeps Espinosa
Team Oyama’s Alex Perez choked Jordan Espinosa unconscious with an arm-triangle in the first round of their featured flyweight showdown. Espinosa (14-7, 1-2 UFC) bowed out 2:33 into Round 1, the Luttrell-Yee MMA rep suffering his second straight submission defeat.
Perez (23-5, 5-1 UFC) introduced himself to Espinosa with leg kicks and punches, closed the distance and secured a takedown. The former Tachi Palace Fights champion progressed to half guard, framed the arm-triangle without clearing his opponent’s legs and tightened his squeeze until Espinosa lost consciousness.
The 27-year-old Perez has won 10 of his last 11 fights.
Replacement Hill Bludgeons Cifers
Former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Angela Hill put away Hannah Cifers with elbows and punches in the second round of their women’s strawweight feature. Cifers (10-4, 2-2 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:26 into Round 2, her modest two-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
A short-notice replacement for Brianna Van Buren, Hill (11-7, 6-7 UFC) exploited her physical and technical advantages in the standup exchanges throughout much of the first round. In the second, the Alliance MMA rep executed and exquisite foot sweep from the double-collar tie, settled in side control and eventually transitioned to mount. Once there, Hill unleashed pure savagery, dropping sharp elbows and punches until referee Kevin MacDonald had seen enough.
Hill, 35, has posted three wins across her last four appearances.
Unbeaten Hill Handles Stosic
Promising Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Jamahal Hill kept his perfect professional record intact, as he pocketed a unanimous decision over Darko Stosic in a three-round light heavyweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-27 for Hill (7-0, 1-0 UFC).
Stosic (13-4, 1-3 UFC) connected with a few looping hooks and secured half a dozen takedowns but did little to dissuade his confident counterpart. Hill unleashed a variety of weapons from a variety of angles and attacked the body, head and legs with equal ferocity. Stosic had a brief glimmer of hope late in the third round, where the Serbian judoka struck for a takedown and hammered away with unabated left hands. However, Hill stayed composed, returned to his feet and resumed his multi-pronged assault.
The 27-year-old Stosic now finds himself on a three-fight losing streak.
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