Curtis Blaydes adapts and uses stand up to knock out former champion Junior dos Santos

(L-R) Curtis Blaydes punches Junior Dos Santos in their heavyweight fight during UFC Fight Night at PNC Arena on Jan. 25, 2020 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Saturday night’s main event in Raleigh, North Carolina, gave fans a treat with Curtis Blaydes finishing former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos by second-round knockout. Blaydes stunned many experts as the wrestler took out dos Santos on the feet.

There was no question what each fighters’ game plan was entering the fight. Blaydes looked to take dos Santos down and utilize ground and pound to break the will of his opponent. Dos Santos has been in this position before and has been wildly successful in his takedown defense. His first fight with current champion Stipe Miocic in 2014 was the last time he was taken down.

Dos Santos was seemingly successful early on, stuffing all six of Blaydes’ takedown attempts. Blaydes was able to adapt and used his takedown attempts as a decoy and landed a monster punch as dos Santos let his guard down, expecting Blaydes to continue to use his wrestling. The former champ backed into the cage and covered-up as Blaydes rained down a series of damaging punches and knees until the ref correctly stopped the fight with dos Santos still standing.

Blaydes, 13-2, has won his last three bouts. In his post-fight interview with former champion Daniel Cormier, Blaydes called for a title fight against Stipe Miocic. While his win streak is nothing to bat an eye at, he is in a tricky situation as the heavyweight division gets crowded at the top of the rankings.

Cormier respectfully kept quiet as Blaydes called his shot, but DC is undoubtedly pushing for a rematch to regain his throne as champion. Also, Francis Ngannou, the only man to defeat Blaydes, is currently riding his own three fight win streak and is scheduled to face Jairzinho Rozenstruik in March. A win there would seemingly put Ngannou in a position to fight for the belt.

It’s unclear how the UFC matchmakers will handle this situation, but there will inevitably be some exciting heavyweight fights in the future.

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