Curtis Blaydes made his case for title contention with a second round stoppage of former heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos at UFC Raleigh.
A heavyweight bout that would push one man closer to title shot topped UFC Raleigh on Saturday night. Whether Junior Dos Santos or Curtis Blaydes would get such an opportunity with a win was another matter. But both men entered the fight with something to prove.
Former champ JDS was looking to bounce back from a loss to Francis Ngannou, which saw him finished in the first round. Blaydes was looking for a third straight win, and to prove that he could hang with a former champ — something that would go a long way to securing him the title fight he clearly desired.
Dos Santos circled from the outside and landed a right to start the bout, but Blaydes shot in for the take down and Santos escaped. Blaydes shot a second take down and again dos Santos escaped. JDS worked from the outside; Blaydes landed a leg kick and dos Santos fired back with a hard upper cut that just missed the mark. Blaydes charged forward with a combination and dos Santos slid out of range. Blaydes then shot in and worked for the take down, dos Santos defended and Blaydes worked in clinch against the cage. After an inadvertent low blow the action continued. The two men exchanged, then Blaydes rushed forward and looked for the take down again. Dos Santos used his movement and got out of the way. Blaydes then landed a nice 1-2 combination and followed that up with a hard right hand. Blaydes then tried for another take down but again dos Santos defended. Dos Santos continued to use his movement and fired off a hard upper cut to close out the round.
Blaydes opened the second with a leg kick and Junior fired back with kick of his own. But Blaydes landed a straight punch that stopped him in his tracks. Dos Santos ate a hard right that stunned him and Blaydes poured it on with knees followed by multiple right hands that wilted Dos Santos and forced the referee to step in and stop the action.
— UFC (@ufc) January 26, 2020
A statement win by Curtis Blaydes, and arguably the biggest of his career. What happens next is anyone’s guess, as there’s Miocic vs. Cormier 3 and Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik still to come this year.
Official Result: Curtis Blaydes def. Junior dos Santos by TKO (knees and punches), Round 2, 1:06