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The UFC is in the Czech Republic for the first time on Saturday 23rd February as Prague hosts this ESPN+ card. ESPN+ MAIN CARD Jan Blachowicz vs Thiago Santos Liz Carmouche vs Lucie Pudilova Stefan Struve vs Marcos Rogério De Lima Daniel Teymur vs Chris Fishgold John Dodson vs Petr Yan Gian Villante vs Michal Oleksiejczuk ESPN+ PRELIMS Magomed Ankalaev vs Klidson Abreu Michel Prazeres vs Ramazan Emeev Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs TBA Rustam Khabilov vs Carlos Diego Ferreira Damir Hadzovic vs Polo Reyes Gillian Robertson vs Veronica Macedo Carlo Pedersoli Jr vs Dwight Grant MMAJunkie bout order there. Nothing earth shattering but it’s decent enough. Jan Blachowicz vs Thiago Santos is a strong enough headliner. I think I said when the fight was first announced though, of all the potentially awesome fights for Santos at 205, this isn’t one I would’ve chosen. Blachowicz is a good fighter, and a bit of a darkhorse at 205 actually, but there were better fights to be made, IMO. With how the division lays currently though, I could definitely see Blachowicz being in line to get his arse kicked by Jon Jones with another win or two. He’s Polish, 23-7 record and a good all-rounder. There isn’t really one area of his game that blows you away but he’s solid enough everywhere. Comes into this one off a 4 fight streak. Santos is my boy though. For the longest time he was one of my favourite undercard guys on the roster, now he’s one of my favourite contenders. It’s been great to see him advance up the card recently. Doubt he goes much further. He’s never beating Jones, he might not beat Blachowicz, but he’s certainly established himself as a worthy Fight Night main eventer at least. Stupidly exciting to watch and seems a good guy too. His last fight with Jimi Manuwa would easily be in my Top 10 for FOTY in 2018. I’d love to see Santos win this but I’ve got a feeling Blachowicz is going to give him all kinds of problems. Liz Carmouche vs Lucie Pudilova is in the co-main spot on Junkie’s listings. Doesn’t sound right but Pudilova is Czech so it might be. Memory’s cloudy on her. Vaguely recall seeing her fight and her looking decent but nothing remarkable. She’s 24 years old, 8-3 record with UFC wins over Ji Yeon Kim and Sarah Moras. Carmouche will be a big test for her. She’s 12-6 and has fought some of the top women in the game and had her moments. She’ll mostly be remembered for being the B-Side in the first ever women’s fight in the UFC against Ronda Rousey in 2013. Stefan Struve vs Marcos Rogério De Lima isn’t grabbing me by the bollocks, to be honest. Could be alright. I’m just at the point with Struve now where I find it a tad uncomfortable watching him. It’s not like he’s getting destroyed or anything but he just seems done, has done for a while to me. He’s still only 30 which seems mad because it feels like he’s been around forever. But I think all those wars earlier in his career, all that punishment he took, has caught up to him. And he seems too set in his ways, too shopworn and too far into his career now to make the necessary adjustments. De Lima’s no killer, maybe Struve can do something with him, but it feels like he’s just treading water at this point. Shame. I like Struve. Daniel Teymur vs Chris Fishgold could be a good one. Of the two Teymur brothers I rate David more but Daniel is no bum himself. Had a cracking fight against Danny Henry on the last Scotland show. He’s lost two on the bounce now though. 6-2 overall. He’s got a 27-4 Kickboxing record as well. Fishgold is from Liverpool, was Cage Warriors champ, has a 17-2-1 record, a haggard looking 26 years old. A good fighter with a strong grappling game but he got TKO’d by Calvin Kattar in his UFC debut in October. John Dodson vs Petr Yan is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** for this one. It might not end up being the most entertaining fight on the show, it seems Dodson has a knack for sucking the fun out of any fight. But it’s a very interesting matchup and a big step up for Yan. It’s Yan that drew me to this fight. I’ve really enjoyed watching him so far. He’s Russian, 11-1 record, only made his UFC debut in June and he’s already 3-0 in the Octagon. Former ACB champion. He’s a quality striker but showed more of his tools in a very well rounded performance at UFC 232 in December, forcing a corner stoppage against Douglas Silva De Andrade. Really high on Yan. This is a tough one though. Dodson’s a tricky awkward little shit and has the experience of having fought pretty much all the top names at 125 and 135. Definitely got my eyes on this one. Gian Villante vs Michal Oleksiejczuk isn’t a fight that effects any rankings or has any relevance to speak of but should be exciting enough. Villante is limited as fuck, he just goes out there and throws down. It makes for some entertaining scraps but it’s a hard way to go in MMA. He’s 17-10 and he’s lost 3 of his last 5. Seems a good guy but he’s definitely the weak link of the Serra-Longo team. Oleksiejczuk is Polish (obvs), 23 years old, 12-2-0-1 and he’s coming off a one year USADA suspension. Magomed Ankalaev vs Klidson Abreu has my attention. Ankalaev is one of the unsung prospects on the roster. Nobody talks about him but he’s 26 years old with a 11-1 record. The lone loss was to Paul Craig on last year’s London card. A fight he was winning handily before getting caught and subbed with a triangle at 4:59 of the third round. Yes, one second to go! One second is the difference between this guy having an undefeated record right now or not. He bounced back with a big headkick stoppage on the Russia card in September. Abreu is making his UFC debut here. He’s Brazilian, 14-2 and has won at 205 and heavyweight. Most notably, he holds a submission win over LHW hot prospect Johnny Walker. I’m intrigued by that alone as I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve seen of Walker so far. Michel Prazeres vs Ramazan Emeev is a proper darkhorse show stealer, IMO. I’m serious. Prazeres is no joke. Like we said about Rani Yahya recently, I think Prazeres is kind of in that same position. A really good fighter who just flies under the radar and goes underappreciated and unnoticed. He’s 37 now so chances are he’s not getting that big break now but he’s a handful for anyone on his day. BJJ black-belt with a 26-2 record. He’s won 8 fights in a row, he’s 10-2 in the UFC and his only losses came against Kevin Lee and Paulo Thiago. He has wins over Mairbek Taisumov, Gilbert Burns, Josh Burkman and submitted Bartosz Fabinski in a minute on the Argentina card last time out. He’s a quality fighter. Emeev is a guy I know little about but you look at his record and his 18-3 with wins over Sam Alvey, ex UFC fighter and all-round nutcase Maiquel Falcão, Luigi Fioravanti and former Bellator and M-1 standout Vyacheslav Vasilevsky. He seems like a guy we should be taking more notice of. Rustam Khabilov vs Carlos Diego Ferreira is another potentially excellent fight. Khabilov’s a bit of a beast. 23-3 and coming off 6 wins in a row. Injury layoffs are the thing that have most held him back really. Has a win over Jorge Masvidal but is probably more remembered for throwing Yancy Medeiros around like a frisbee. Ferreira has had a similar career. Bags of potential, fantastic ground game, decent punching power, 14-2 record but has also had his share of injuries. I like this matchup a lot actually. Two guys who I really feel could be fairly high up the rankings if they’d stayed healthy consistently over the last few years. Damir Hadzovic vs Polo Reyes could be decent. Hadzovic is known as ‘The Bosnian Bomber’ for a reason. He’s not the most technical striker but he throws with bad intentions. He’s 12-4, outpointed Nick Hein last time out and has a KO via knee over Marcin Held. Quite a hit and miss record but he’s dangerous and not someone you can switch off against. Reyes is Mexican, 8-4 and has won 5 of his last 6 with the only defeat being against James Vick. He KO’d Serra-Longo’s Matt Frevola in a minute in his last fight. Gillian Robertson vs Veronica Macedo isn’t any great shakes on paper but could be a pleasant surprise. Robertson is 23 years old, Canadian, fights out of ATT and has a 5-3 record. Best win so far was her submission over Molly McCann in Molly’s backyard in Liverpool in May. Macedo is also 23, Venezuelan with a 5-2-1 record. She’s lost both her UFC fights to Ashlee Evans-Smith and Andrea Lee. Has a heel hook submission win over ex TUF contestant Karine Gevorgyan. That’s your lot.