The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Jan. 25 touched down in Raleigh, North Carolina, to pit its third- and fourth-ranked heavyweights against one another. Former “Baddest Man on the Planet” Junior dos Santos faced fast-rising contender Curtis Blaydes in the UFC Fight Night 166 main event, with the winner conceivably landing on the shortlist for a crack at Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight throne.
We thought we knew what to expect. Dos Santos was going to try and box off Blaydes’ ears, utilizing his footwork and timing to avoid the wrestler’s smothering grappling offense while getting off a few concussive blows fired as single shots. Blaydes was going to use his striking as a vehicle to chase the takedown, and if he got on top of dos Santos, he would reign down elbows on the Brazilian until the referee intervened. It was a classic striker-versus-grappler storyline that has been recycled and remixed since the days of Royce Gracie and Gerard Gordeau.
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