A New Contender Emerges from UFC on ESPN+ 25

UFC on ESPN+ 25: Anderson vs Blachowicz 2 took place on Saturday night in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The Santa Ana Star Center played host to just less than 6,500 fans and a $596k gate.

While this was a smaller, more intimate event than some of the more recent grandiose spectacles put on by the promotion, the fighting spirit was alive on the native grounds.

The biggest storyline line of the night though was Polish Power reigning supreme. #6 ranked light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz absolutely destroyed #5 Corey Anderson. That now makes two of Blachowicz’s last three fights first-round knockouts (knocked out Luke Rockhold in his LHW debut). He also went the distance with Jacare Souza in a main event, proving that he can dig deep for five rounds.

With Jon Jones in attendance, Blachowicz staked his claim to be the next guy in line for a title shot. He even shared a moment (and some words) with the champ who was sitting cageside.

Any doubt about the 36-year-old Pole being a legitimate contender was silenced. Blachowicz may have to wait a little while for his shot if the UFC matchmakers decide to make the Jones versus Dominick Reyes matchup first.

Saturday night was historic for a couple of reasons.

The De La Rosa’s became the first husband and wife duo to fight on the same UFC card. They garnered split results as Mark was TKO’d by Raulian Paiva in the second round of the curtain puller and Montana put on a dominant performance for a win by unanimous decision against Maria Romero Borella in the feature fight of the evening.

There were two disqualifications for illegal knees to grounded opponents throughout.

Brok Weaver made his UFC debut against Rodrigo Vargas. Vargas started off strong by rushing Weaver with a series of punches and kicks before getting a takedown against the fence. Weaver threatened with a guillotine, and also used the lock to stand himself up. Weaver tried to go two-on-one with Vargas’ wrist for a submission attempt but ate a knee to the face while sitting on the canvas for what looked like a flash knockout. Weaver was declared the winner by DQ.

Diego Sanchez was also a winner by DQ against Michel Pereira. The New Mexico veteran was losing on each judge’s scorecard going into the third round, where he continued to wear a considerable amount of damage from the young and explosive Brazilian.

Sanchez was given suspect advice in his corner, and they offered no technical advice — you know, maybe shoot for a takedown one time? Nevertheless, Sanchez was sent to his knees by Pereira by a shot to the body where Pereira delivered the illegal knee to Sanchez’s head.

Sanchez stated he was unable to continue, which drew criticism from many online who felt he could continue. Let’s be clear: Diego Sanchez has earned the right and the respect to not have his heart questioned. For people to come out against him and calling him a quitter is outright disrespectful and those people should be ashamed of themselves. Plain and simple.

Ray Borg shined in his return to flyweight (well, sort of, he missed weight by 2 lbs.). The “Tazmexican Devil” used his wrestling to dominate the Brazilian submission specialist, Rogerio Bontorin.

John Dodson returned to the winner’s circle against Nathaniel Wood with a thunderous left hook that called for a stoppage just 0:16 into the third round.

Scott Holtzman got the better of Jim Miller in a lightweight clash that earned them both a $50,000 Fight Of The Night Bonus.

“Groovy” Lando Vannata weathered the storm of a broken leg off of a checked kick by Yancy Medeiros in the first round to take home a unanimous decision win. Jackson’s MMA Acoma went 3-0 on the night with Dodson and Borg having their hands raised earlier in the night.

Daniel Rodriguez has the lone submission of the night. The UFC debutant tapped Tim Means via standing guillotine choke in the second round.

The UFC will be back on ESPN next Saturday in Auckland, New Zealand for a lightweight clash between #6 Paul Felder vs #7 Dan Hooker.

-Jordan Kurtz is a founding member of Comments From The Peanut Gallery and The MMA Plug and can be followed on Instagram at @CommentsFromThePeanutGallery and @TheMMAPlug303

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