UFC Prague was UFC’s debut in the Czech Republic. Among other things, it featured a main event where Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos picked up the biggest win of his career.
As the UFC Octagon landed in Prague for the first time, two top 10 light-heavyweights tried to solidify their positions in the wide open 205-pound division. Ranked #4 Jan Blachowicz was quietly riding a four-fight win streak, whilst sixth-ranked Santos was coming off three straight victories.
Jan Blachowicz v Thiago Santos
Santos came out swinging wild kicks, while Blachowicz looked to work behind the jab. Santos is generally known to try and bulldoze his opponents early but employed a more patient game-plan; chopping at Blachowicz’s legs and using Jon Jones-esque oblique kicks.
As the second round started, Santos went straight back to attacking Blachowicz’s lead leg, which was already starting to redden. Blachowicz, while switching stances in an attempt to confuse Santos, fired back with some heavy leg kicks of his own.
After both fighters had fought so patiently through two rounds, Blachowicz seemed to suffer a rush of blood to the head at the start of the third. With Santos backing up, Blachowicz charged forward with a wild uppercut that Santos countered perfectly with a straight right and a left hook.
The latter sent Blachowicz crashing to the mat, and the Brazilian pounced right away. With Blachowicz trying to cover up on the ground Santos unleashed a barrage of hammerfists, causing referee Herb Dean to step in and wave of the action 38 seconds into round three.
With the victory, Santos is now 3-0 at light heavyweight with all his wins coming via stoppage. He will presumably take Blachowicz’s number 4 spot in the rankings, and with #3 Anthony Smith challenging Jon Jones next weekend, ‘Marreta’ is in a very good spot to take on the winner.
Stefan Struve V Marcus Rogerio De Lima
In the co-main event veteran and fan favourite Stefan Struve, scored a come from behind victory in what may prove to be his final fight. The 7ft tall Dutchman came into this bout under the pressure of losing three straight and knowing this was the final fight of his contract.
The fight started in the worst possible way for Struve, as De Lima dropped him with the very first punch. Following the blueprint set by Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt before him, De Lima closed the distance immediately and launched an overhand right over Struve’s guard that crumbled ‘Skyscraper’.
De Lima followed Struve to the mat and was happy to take up position in Struve’s guard. Aware of Struve’s submission prowess, De Lima worked diligently, passing to half guard and landing short punches and elbows.
With thirty seconds left of round one, Marcus produced a textbook back-step out of half guard, then mounted Struve as he tried to turn in towards him. De Lima held the position, leaving a strong impression on the judges as the round ended.
The second round started in similar fashion. This time De Lima missing the right hand, but switching to the bodylock and trying to take Struve down. Struve was able to reverse, landing a beautiful uchi mata throw from the Whizzer.
In De Lima’s half guard, Struve looked for the arm triangle choke early. De Lima was able to get his arm out of danger, forcing Struve to change tack and instead pass to mount. Once there Struve straight away got his head under De Lima’s arm looking for the choke again.
This time De Lima was unable to free his arm, and Struve connected his hands, starting to apply pressure. Traditionally the arm triangle is finished by stepping off the mount, but Struve was able to simply drop his right hip and sink his weight into the choke. Ultimately, forcing the tap at 2:21 into round two.
Farewell to a fan favourite.
After the fight, an emotional Struve said that while he was not 100% sure, there was a good chance that this was his last fight. He took his gloves off and left them in the middle of the cage, a traditional gesture of retirement among fighters.
If this is the last we see of Skyskraper I would personally like to thank and congratulate Struve on a storied career. Struve was always one of my favourite fighters to watch, and I had the pleasure of seeing him defeat Stipe Miocic in Nottingham many years ago.
While only 31 years of ages, Struve has suffered some well-documented health issues, and this past Thursday marked the ten-year anniversary of his UFC debut in London.
Gian Villante v Michal Oleksiejczuk
Also on the main card, 24-year-old Michal Oleksiejczuk made short work of veteran Gian Villante. Oleksiejczuk was making his return to the cage after a year-long suspension, following a failed drug test from his most recent fight against Khalil Rountree.
As the bell rung Oleksiejczuk came out with lots of lateral movement, stalking Villante, making him retreat towards the fence. Oleksiejczuk looked to attack the body early with a left hook as Villante returned fire with an inside leg kick
Oleksiejczuk pressured Villante again throwing an overhand left that was blocked, then digging a left hook to Villante’s liver. The reaction was delayed, but Villante winced in pain and crumpled to the floor clutching his side.
As Villante covered up, Oleksiejczuk went in for the kill throwing lefts at the downed Villante. Prompting referee Marc Goddard to wave of the fight 1:34 into round one. Oleksiejczuk improves to 13-2 (1 NC) while Villante slips to 17-11 overall, 7-8 in the UFC.
- Thiago Santos def. Jan Blachowicz, TKO (punches) R3 0:39
- Stefan Struve def. Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Submission (arm-triangle choke) R2 2:21
- Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Gian Villante, TKO (body punch) R1 1:34
- Liz Carmouche def. Lucie Pudilova, Unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Petr Yan def. John Dodson, Unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Magomed Ankalaev def. Klidson Abreu, Unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Dwight Grant def. Carlo Pedersoli Jr., TKO (punches) R1 4:59
- Chris Fishgold def. Daniel Teymur, Submission (rear-naked choke) R2 1:10
- Gillian Robertson def. Veronica Macedo, Submission (rear-naked choke) R2 3:27
- Damir Hadzovic def. Polo Reyes, TKO (punches) R2 2:03
- Ismail Naurdiev def. Michel Prazeres Unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Rustam Khabilov, Unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Damir Ismagulov def. Joel Alvarez, Unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
BONUS AWARDS ($50,000 each)
- Fight of the Night: None awarded
- Performance of the Night: Thiago Santos, Stefan Struve, Michal Oleksiejczuk and Dwight Grant