The UFC’s first Fight Night show of 2020 went down in Raleigh, North Carolina last night, and while there wasn’t much fanfare around the show going in – likely a hangover from the previous weekend’s Conor McGregor-headlined pay-per-view – it turned out to be a solid effort overall.
A five-fight main card gave us three finishes, including a big knockout in the main event, and outside of a slow opener between Darko Stosic and Jamahal Hill, everything was relatively fun to watch. Even the prelims all ranged from decent to excellent, with the lone exception being Justine Kish’s dull win over Lucie Pudilova.
Nobody is going to remember this show at the end of 2020, but it was fine. Here are the best and worst moments from UFC Fight Night 166: Blaydes vs. Dos Santos.
#1 Best: Blaydes stakes his claim
Curtis Blaydes was coming into last night’s Heavyweight clash with Junior Dos Santos as the favorite, but after suffering a bad KO against the last heavy hitter he faced – Francis Ngannou in 2018 – there were some question marks over how well ‘Razor’ would stand up against a power puncher. Well, he passed the test with flying colors.
The first round saw Blaydes shoot plenty of his trademark takedowns, and although ‘Cigano’ was able to stuff them all, they gave the Brazilian plenty to think about, and the result was that he looked jittery standing, nothing like the concussive striker who once held the UFC Heavyweight title.
And so in the second round, Blaydes faked a takedown and threw a beautiful overhand right that connected flush. JDS was clearly hurt by the shot; his legs stiffened up under him and he simply went into a defensive shell as ‘Razor’ bombed on him. The referee’s call to stop the fight while the Brazilian was still standing was an excellent – and merciful – decision.
Was this Blaydes’ best UFC showing? Perhaps not as he didn’t get to use his excellent wrestling, but he showed he’s adding plenty to his game as time goes on, and at 28 years old, it’s easy to imagine that we could be seeing a future UFC champion at work.