UFC Prague – Blachowicz vs. Santos: Main Card Staff Picks

Thiago Santos UFC 231 UFC Prague
Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

UFC Prague brings fans action early on Saturday morning/afternoon and Cageside Press has their picks set for the European card.

Staff Writers
Ankalaev vs. Abreu
Dodson vs. Yan
Carmouche vs. Pudilova
Villante vs. Oleksiejczuk
Struve vs. de Lima
Blachowicz vs. Santos
Jason Payne (31-5)
Drake Riggs (29-7)
Josh Evanoff (29-7)
Heath Harshman (28-8)
Jay Anderson (27-9)
Bryson Hester (20-7)
Paarth Pande (26-10)
Steve King (26-10)
Jesse Gillette (26-10)
Alex Scaffidi (25-11)
Shawn Bitter (25-11)
Gabriel Gonzalez (25-11)
Mike Straus (25-11)
Joe McDonagh (25-11)
Eddie Law (24-12)
Dan Doherty (22-14)
Mike McClory (12-9)
Adam LeBarr (0-0)

The UFC Prague main event pits top-10 light heavyweights Jan Blachowicz and Thiago Santos against each other. Blachowicz has hit his stride, winning four consecutive fights and earning performance bonuses in three of them after starting his Octagon career at 2-4. Thiago Santos is 2-0 at light heavyweight after stopping Eryk Anders and Jimi Manuwa. All but one of the 18 writers picked Santos.

The co-main event features Stefan Struve and Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Struve has lost in three straight fights after a pair of victories over Bigfoot Silva and Daniel Omielanczuk had fans thinking that Struve may revitalize his career. Marcos Rogerio de Lima was 3-3 at light heavyweight in the Octagon before moving to heavyweight last year and defeating Adam Wieczorek. Struve got just a bit more love from the staff, getting two of 18 picks.

Gian Villante welcomes Michal Oleksiejczuk back to the Octagon after the latter served a suspension that had him sidelined for all of 2018. Oleksiejczuk defeated Khalil Rountree in his UFC debut in 2017, but tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs afterward, leading to the fight being ruled a no contest. Villante is looking for a definitive result in this bout as his last four have gone to split decision, going 2-2 in that stretch. Oleksiejczuk received 13 picks to Villante’s five.

Liz Carmouche looks to solidify herself as a top-five talent at flyweight with a win over Lucie Pudilova. Carmouche was defeated in her flyweight debut, but topped dominant Invicta FC champion Jennifer Maia in the latter’s promotional debut. Pudilova had a two-fight win streak snapped in a Fight of the Night loss to Irene Aldana and will look for success by dropping to flyweight. Carmouche was picked unanimously.

Petr Yan looks to continue his climb to the top of the bantamweight division when he faces the tricky veteran John Dodson. Yan is 3-0 in the UFC thus far with two knockouts after ruling ACA’s bantamweight division. Dodson has gone 3-3 since moving to bantamweight, alternating wins and losses in all six fights. If you like patterns, Dodson is due for a win after falling to Jimmie Rivera in his last appearance. Yan received 15 of 18 picks.

Opening up the UFC Prague main card will be promising light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev against the debuting Klidson Abreu. Ankalaev made his promotional debut last March and dominated Paul Craig before tapping to a triangle with one second left in the contest. He rebounded with a first-round head kick knockout in his last fight. Abreu is a former Brave CF champion who has submitted his last five opponents heading into his promotional debut. Like Carmouche, Ankalaev was picked unanimously.