A high stakes heavyweight pairing will headline UFC Fight Night Raleigh on January 25th. as top five contenders, Curtis Blaydes and former division champion Junior dos Santos look to begin their 2020 with a considerable step towards a title tilt.
Juco wrestler Blaydes, has picked up two straight wins since his rematch defeat to Francis Ngannou last November, managing victories over Justin Willis and Shamil Abdurakhimov. Former division best dos Santos, was scheduled to meet Alexander Volkov in the main event of UFC Fight Night Moscow last Saturday night, until a staph infection two weeks prior to the bout forced him from the contest. Volkov subsequently dropped to the co-main event where he lodged a comfortable unanimous decision over short-notice replacement, Greg Hardy. The news of the headliner was first reported by ESPN staff writer, Brett Okamoto.
Illinois native Blaydes, has proven to be a tricky puzzle to solve throughout his three year stint with the organization. Cameroonian powerhouse Francis Ngannou has so far been the only opponent to hand the 28-year-old a defeat. ‘Razor’ Blaydes has notched some quite notable names into his belt over his ten fight Octagon career, with victories coming against supremely talented kickboxer, Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt, and the wily submission specialist, Aleksei Oleinik. Blaydes has displayed a real maturity in his most recent Octagon appearances, scoring clever takedowns from the clinch before unloading punishing ground strikes.
Brazilian striker Junior dos Santos suffered his first loss in three outings against the previously mentioned Ngannou last time out, after scoring finishes of Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa, after a unanimous decision triumph over Blagoy Ivanov. JDS has one of the most impressive resume’s in modern heavyweight history, with victories coming against division gold-holders, Fabricio Werdum, Cain Velasquez, Stipe Miocic, Frank Mir, and Shane Carwin. The 35-year-old Cacador native is certainly approaching the tail-end of his storied career, but still remains a highly dangerous boxers amongst his striking heavy, heavyweight peers. With a victory over Blaydes, dos Santos may set up a rubber-match with current champion Stipe Miocic, over the next calendar year.