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The Ultimate Fighting Championship put its promotional oomph behind a pair of light heavyweight contenders, as Corey Anderson locked horns with Jan Blachowicz in the UFC Fight Night 167 headliner on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Some stocks rose, while others plummeted.
Jan Blachowicz: It did not take Jan Blachowicz long to floor Anderson and establish himself as a potential suitor for Jon Jones and the undisputed light heavyweight championship. The Polish powerhouse shut out the lights with a perfectly timed right hook that sent Anderson tumbling to the canvas, where he was met with a follow-up hammerfist that prompted the stoppage 3:08 into the first round. Blachowicz has won seven of his last eight bouts and appears to finally be drawing the recognition he has sought since he joined the UFC roster in 2014.
Daniel Rodriguez: Tim Means was viewed as a stiff test for the Dana White’s Contender Series alum, and he passed it with flying colors. Rodriguez showed off an excellent boxing game, dropping the former King of the Cage champion with an overhand right in the last second of what had been a competitive first round. Round 2 was where the UFC newcomer truly shined, as he teed off with power strikes until Means dipped into a standing guillotine choke and tapped soon after. The submission victory improved Rodriguez to 11-1 and made him an immediate person of interest in the welterweight division.
John Dodson: After losing three of his previous four fights, it appeared as though Dodson had entered the beginning-of-the-end phase of his career. However, “The Magician” treated onlookers to a vintage performance, as his combination of blinding speed and knockout power brought down Nathaniel Wood in the second round of their undercard battle. Dodson troubled the former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder from the start and frustrated him to a point where he took one too many risks. A counter left hook decked Wood, and a few follow-up shots netted Dodson his first finish since 2016. The Albuquerque, New Mexico, native could not have scripted a better homecoming.
Corey Anderson: After his knockout of Johnny Walker, Anderson was in prime position to make a run at becoming the No. 1 contender at 205 pounds. However, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 19 winner came up short when it mattered most, as he was victimized by Blachowicz’s heavy hands in the first round of their main event. Though he possesses the cardio, wrestling and boxing skills necessary to contend at light heavyweight, striking defense continues to be a problem for Anderson, who has suffered four of his five professional defeats by knockout or technical knockout. Due to the shallow nature of the division, he figures to draw another Top 10 opponent in his next assignment.
Diego Sanchez: It was a strange appearance for “The Nightmare,” from the whacky corner work to his lack of output and unorthodox fighting stance. Sanchez probably needs o do some soul searching before he decides to move forward with his career. He was not competitive with Michel Pereira in their co-headliner, opting to throw wild somersault kicks and sprint across the Octagon in cringe-worthy sequences. Although Sanchez was declared the victor due to his opponent being disqualified for an illegal knee in the third round, he did little to inspire confidence in his future as a fighter.
Yancy Medeiros: After suffering his third straight setback in a unanimous decision loss to Lando Vannata, the Hawaiian striker finds himself in danger of being cut from the UFC roster. Perhaps more importantly, Medeiros seems to have lost the competitive fire that made him a fan favorite from the day he set foot inside the Octagon. During his three-round encounter with Vannata, he appeared to be more interested in following his opponent around the cage and slapping high fives than he did with improving the trajectory of his career. Even though he was clearly behind on the scorecards, Medeiros showed no desire to step outside of his comfort zone and hunt the finish. It would probably benefit the 32-year-old to take a long look in the mirror before he returns to the cage.