UFC on ESPN+ 24: Blaydes stops dos Santos in two; Chiesa manhandles dos Anjos

Sporting News

Curtis "Razor" Blaydes wasn't expected to outstrike former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 24 on Saturday, but that's exactly what he did when he landed a huge right hand and scored a second-round TKO at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

For much of his MMA career, Blaydes was able to get inside and pin his opponents to the canvas in his victories. That was the game plan when he stepped into the Octagon against one of the greatest strikers in UFC heavyweight history. He knew it, dos Santos knew it and everyone in the arena knew it.

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But when Blaydes was unable to secure a takedown throughout the opening frame, he swiftly recognized that the strikes he was using to set up the takedown were having an effect on the 35-year-old dos Santos. Although his corner continued to encourage him to shoot for the takedown, Blaydes decided to sit down on his punches and make them count.

With dos Santos committed to landing a lead uppercut, Blaydes opted to set up heavy strikes of his own. Sensing that the Brazilian would continue to try to run him into the uppercut, Blaydes saw an opening for a right hand and caught dos Santos clean.

Clearly rattled, dos Santos retreated to the cage wall. Blaydes followed him in and fired several devastating knee strikes and punches until referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in to end the fight at 1:06 of the second and give Blaydes his most significant victory in the UFC to date.

In the co-main event, Michael Chiesa continued his climb in the welterweight division by smothering former lightweight champion Rafael dos Santos for a unanimous decision victory.

The winner of "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 15 was clearly the bigger fighter, and he used his size to muscle his opponent throughout the three-round affair.

Although dos Anjos was able to land effective calf kicks and punches, those opportunities were few and far between as Chiesa closed the distance and outgrappled him.

The victory was the third in a row for Chiesa, who immediately set his sights on his next opponent when he called out Colby Covington for a July showdown

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