The Europeans take center stage on Saturday night as Poland’s Jan Blachowicz travels to the UFC facility in Las Vegas to take on his Austrian opponent, light heavyweight number three Aleksandar Rakic. ‘Polish Power’ returns to the ring for the first time since losing to kickboxing veteran Glover Teixeira, when the Brazilian defeated Blachowicz by rear choke to become the oldest UFC champion for the first time.
Outside of this main event, we see County Durham’s Davey Grant as he looks to get back on his winning streak, more light heavyweight action from Ryan Spann and Ion Cutelaba, and a great shot put matchup. fly between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas.
Or: UFC Apex Facility, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
When: The prelims begin at 00:30 BST, with the main card set for a 3:00 start.
How to watch: BT Sport 1’s coverage begins with the prelims at 1am, with the broadcast due to end at 6.30am.
Blachowicz vs. Rakic
John Blachowicz has had a long history in the world of MMA. He was a Polish, European and World champion in Muay Thai and Grappling, as well as a successful career in KSW (Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki, or Martial Arts Confrontation translated), the first MMA organization in Poland. Despite his recent loss to Teixeira, he has won 9 of his last 10 fights, beating Luke Rockhold, Dominick Reyes and Israel Adesanya on his way to victory and defending his belt.
His choking grappling is enough to smother the most aggressive fighters, and he has a huge engine that sees him reach the end of many five rounds. On the feet, he had eight knockout victories, including knocking out Corey Anderson with a lead left hand.
In the opposite corner is Aleksandar Rakica Viennese brawler who has suffered just one loss in the UFC so far went up against title challenger Volkan Oezdemir.
He has won victories over Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith and is currently in the third fight of his six-fight contract he signed with the UFC following his controversial loss to Oezdemir. It was a fight that was scored in Rakic’s favor by eight of the nine media representatives, which reflected the damage, strikes and takedown advantage Rakic had on the night, but did not reflect not in the split decision loss.
Nonetheless, his two unanimous decision wins since have given him another shot at becoming top contender. A win on Saturday night all but guarantees the Austrian a shot against Glover Teixeira or Jiri Prochazka depending on the outcome of that fight next month in Singapore.
Expect this fight to go a few rounds, with lots of action on the ground rather than on the feet.
Light heavyweights Ryan Spann and Ion Cutelaba meet in the cage with the pair looking to cement a number next to their names in the rankings and try to find a more established opponent next time around. Nick Diaz Academy’s Nick Maximov and Dana White’s Contender Series fame are looking to continue his undefeated run against Andre Petroski, a tough grappler who learned under Daniel Gracie before reaching The Ultimate Fighter semifinals.
Katlyn Chookagian is aiming for a fourth straight win, this time against Amanda Ribas who returns to flyweight after a win and loss at strawweight, the class in which she was champion when she fought in Brazil. The pair are staples at the top of their respective female weight classes and may be looking to find themselves a title shot.
Finally, England’s Davey Grant will face fellow UFC veteran Louis Smolka in what could be a fight of the night. The pair are unpredictable and inconsistent on their day and often fight with the heart rather than the mind, so we’re likely to see this one kicking in.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic (light heavyweight)
Ryan Spann vs. Ion Cutelaba (light heavyweight)
Davey Grant vs. Louis Smolka (bantamweight)
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Amanda Ribas (W Flyweight)
Frank Camacho vs. Manuel Torres (lightweight)
Jake Hadley vs. Allan Nascimento (Flyweight)
Viviane Araujo vs. Andrea Lee (W flyweight)
Michael Johnson vs. Alan Patrick (lightweight)
Virna Jandiroba vs. Angela Hill (W strawweight)
Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Candelario (Flyweight)
Nick Maximov vs. Andre Petroski (middleweight)