UFC FIGHT NIGHT: BLACHOWICZ vs. RAKIC aired live in Asia on Sunday, from UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The theme of the night was contenders jockeying for position, and the entire card did not disappoint.
Former champion and #1 contender Jan Blachowicz and surging #3 Aleksandar Rakic engaged in a winner-takes-all challenge that was fun while it lasted. Blachowicz showed his heavy striking, tenacity, and grappling that earned him the belt, and Rakic put on a good display of striking and fight IQ. Blachowicz earned the win by TKO when damage to Rakic's leg caused it to buckle. Blachowicz said,
"I wish you a good recovery, you'll be champion one day. It was a tough fight, this is what I expected. He had an injury, it is what it is. I can't wait to step inside the Octagon again with this feeling, this joy, and I hope UFC gives me the next title shot."
Light heavyweight ranked #13 Ryan Spann evaded the worst of Ion Cutelaba's dangerous striking to get the trip and lock on a guillotine submission quickly in the first round. Spann said,
"I had to get out of my way to do what I had to do. I'm going to give my country that belt. Me and my brother work hard for this all my life. I'm telling you, I'm coming."
Japan's Tatsuro Taira weathered his first Octagon appearance with the measured skill of a veteran against a tough and crafty Carlos Candelario. Taira looked comfortable and capable on his feet, but it was his grappling prowess that earned him the unanimous decision victory and keeps him undefeated.
Women's #1 flyweight contender welcomed Amanda Ribas to the division with a rousing three-rounder that was played on the feet and on the ground. At the end, both engaged in a thrilling brawl, and Chookagian walked away with the close split decision win.
It was expected to be an exciting bantamweight matchup between Davey Grant and Louis Smolka, and they did not disappoint. Grant's kicks and flurries of combinations racked up in the first round, while Smolka's knees and elbows added up in the second. Grant took the TKO in the third with smart tactics that allowed him to finish Smolka with punches on the ground.
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