The title shot Jan Blachowicz covets now seems as far away as ever despite the fact that he walked out of the cage with a victory over an all-time great.
In a performance that lacked aggression and the requisite sense of urgency, the former KSW champion settled for a split decision over Ronaldo Souza in the UFC Fight Night 164 main event on Saturday at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. All three judges scored it 48-47, two of them siding with Blachowicz. The 10,344 fans in attendance were not impressed.
Blachowicz tended towards caution in the five-round affair, as he leaned on leg kicks, a steady jab, occasional punching combinations and airtight takedown defense. He outlanded “Jacare” by wide margins -- 105-56 in total strikes and 71-20 in significant strikes -- but never seemed willing to put his foot on the gas, likely out of fear of being taken down by the two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Blachowicz vs. Jacare,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Jan Blachowicz vs. Anthony Smith: After failing to move the needle as he had hoped, Blachowicz appears to have some work to do in order to secure his shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight crown. The 36-year-old Pole has won six of his last seven bouts inside the Octagon, and though he remains a viable contender in a thin 205-pound weight class, he squandered at least some of the momentum he built with a sensational knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 239 in July. Smith has not competed since he submitted Alexander Gustafsson with a rear-naked choke in their UFC Fight Night 153 headliner on June 1.
Charles Oliveira vs. Edson Barboza: Oliveira needed less than 90 seconds to take care of business, as he wiped out former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Jared Gordon with punches in the first round of their lightweight showcase. Gordon met his end 1:26 into Round 1. Oliveira has rattled off six straight victories, all of them finishes, since his technical knockout loss to Paul Felder a little less than two years ago and appears poised to make a run at the Top 10 in one of the sport’s deepest divisions. Barboza last fought at UFC 242, where he wound up on the wrong side of a contentious split decision in a rematch with the aforementioned Felder on Sept. 7.
James Krause vs. Thiago Alves-Tim Means winner: Krause, who has not tasted defeat in nearly five years, has made himself impossible to ignore at 170 pounds. The 33-year-old Glory MMA and Factory X standout cut down multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Sergio Moraes with third-round punches in their featured welterweight prelim, as he extended his winning streak to six fights and continued his unexpected late-career tear. Krause drew the curtain 4:19 into Round 3, authoring his 22nd finish in 27 career victories. Alves and Means on Dec. 7 will lock horns at UFC on ESPN 7 in Washington, D.C.
Randy Brown vs. Lyman Good: Brown has the look of a fighter who has turned the corner. The onetime Ring of Combat champion weathered significant adversity and became the first man to submit Warlley Alves, as he disposed of “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 3 winner with a triangle choke in the second round of their undercard scrap at 170 pounds. Alves offered a reluctant tapout 1:22 into Round 2. Brown, 29, has strung together back-to-back victories since being victimized by Niko Price in July 2018. A former Bellator MMA champion who has played to mixed reviews inside the Octagon, Good last fought at UFC 244 on Nov. 2, when he stopped Chance Rencountre with third-round punches.
Ricardo Ramos vs. Doo Ho Choi-Charles Jourdain winner: Ramos improved to 5-1 in the UFC and distanced himself further from a Feb. 2 technical knockout loss to Said Nurmagomedov, as he submitted the previously unbeaten Luiz Eduardo Garagorri with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their featherweight prelim. Garagorri raised the white flag 3:57 into Round 1. Just 24 years old, Ramos has shown dynamic, well-rounded skills since he joined the UFC roster in 2017 and still has plenty of room for growth -- a frightening thought for the rest of the 145-pound weight class. Choi and Jourdain will duke it out at UFC Fight Night 165 on Dec. 21 in Busan, South Korea.