Jan Blachowicz let his intentions be known: He wants a piece of undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones.
Blachowicz shattered Corey Anderson’s championship aspirations in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 167 main event, as he knocked out “The Ultimate Fighter 19” winner with a sweeping right hook and good-measure hammerfist on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Anderson, who had taken a unanimous decision from the former KSW champion in September 2015, succumbed to blows 3:08 into Round 1.
Neither man established much of a rhythm ahead of the stoppage. Blachowicz caught Anderson moving forward, ducked into a counter right hook and delivered a brutal standing-to-ground hammerfist on his defenseless target before referee Herb Dean could arrive on the scene. It was the seventh opening-round finish of his 34-fight career and the first in more than five years.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Anderson vs. Blachowicz 2,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Jan Blachowicz vs. Jon Jones: One slashing right hook put the soon-to-be 37-year-old Blachowicz front and center in the chase for a shot at the light heavyweight title. Whether or not UFC matchmakers view him as the No. 1 contender for Jones remains to be seen. Blachowicz has rattled off seven victories across his last eight appearances—a run of sustained success that has seen him defeat Anderson, Ronaldo Souza, Luke Rockhold, Nikita Krylov, Jimi Manuwa, Jared Cannonier and Devin Clark. Jones retained his 205-pound crown with a controversial unanimous decision over Dominick Reyes in the UFC 247 headliner on Feb. 8. Talk of an immediate rematch persists.
Montana De La Rosa vs. Jessica Eye: A quarterfinalist on Season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, De La Rosa continues to enjoy a steady climb on the women’s flyweight ladder. She improved to 4-1 inside the Octagon with a clear-cut unanimous decision over American Top Team’s Mara Romero Borella on the UFC Fight Night 167 main card. Still just 25 years of age, De La Rosa does not yet appear to have peaked and has room to grow in a Valentina Shevchenko-dominated division in desperate need of viable contenders. Eye last fought at UFC 245, where she took a unanimous verdict from Viviane Araujo on Dec. 14.
Ray Borg vs. Askar Askarov: Issues with the scale—he has missed weight four times in 11 UFC appears—may ultimately prevent Borg from reaching his potential. Despite checking in at 128 pounds for his flyweight showcase opposite Rogerio Bontorin, the Jackson-Wink MMA standout passed his latest test with surprising ease. Borg took down the Brazilian 10 times in 15 minutes and limited him to two significant strikes landed in the second and third rounds combined. The 26-year-old has recorded back-to-back victories since he dropped a unanimous decision to Casey Kenney a little more than a year ago. Askarov remained undefeated (11-0-1) by outpointing Tim Elliott at UFC 246 in January.
Lando Vannata vs. Matt Frevola-Roosevelt Roberts winner: Vannata’s rollercoaster ride of a career seems to be on the upswing once again after his unanimous decision over Yancy Medeiros in a featured lightweight battle. He outstruck Medeiros in all three rounds and flummoxed the Hawaiian with constant stance switches and herky-jerky movement. Vannata now sports a 3-4-2 record in the UFC, though his all-action tendencies allow him to maintain his position as a must-see attraction at 155 pounds. Frevola, who fought “Groovy Lando” to a majority draw in 2018, will square off with Roberts at UFC Fight Night 173 on April 25.
John Dodson vs. Raphael Assuncao-Cody Garbrandt winner: Delivering his first finish in nearly four years, Dodson cut down former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Nathaniel Wood with third-round punches on the undercard. Wood bowed out 16 seconds into Round 3, his eight-fight winning streak having run its course. Still going strong at age 35, Dodson and his lightning-quick hands remain a threat to virtually anyone in the bantamweight division despite the fact that he has not posted consecutive victories since 2015. Remember, he has never been stopped in nearly 16 years as a professional mixed martial artist. Assuncao has been booked opposite Garbrandt at UFC on ESPN 8 in March.