UFC on ESPN+ 25: Anderson vs Blachowicz 2 is set to take place on Saturday night in Rio Rancho, New Mexico at the Santa Ana Star Center.
The Star Center is located just 20 miles from downtown Albuquerque and sits at 5,282 ft. above sea level, according to the official site of Rio Rancho, NM.
With the action taking place in a high altitude environment, it will be interesting to see how condition factors into the thirteen fights on the night.
There are at least seven fighters on the card who routinely train at elevation, with many of them doing their fight camps in the Albuquerque area.
On Monday during the Ariel Helwani MMA Show on ESPN, main event combatant and #5 ranked UFC Light Heavyweight, Jan Blachowicz, said he has been getting acclimated to the thin air by spending the last couple weeks of his camp in New Mexico.
There are a couple of fights on the card that carry some significant implications for the future of the fighters and their respective divisions.
The first bout we will take a look at is in the bantamweight division where #12 ranked John “The Magician” Dodson takes on Nathaniel “The Prospect” Wood.
“The Magician” has had an up and down run in the UFC going 8-6 in the promotion since winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 14. It is worth noting that all of Dodson’s losses have been against top tier opponents, including two of them in flyweight title fights against Demetrious Johnson. The seasoned vet fighting out of Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink (who has wins over TJ Dillashaw, Tim Elliott, and Pedro Munhoz), will bring a level of experience that offers a stiff step up in competition for “The Prospect”.
Wood has finished all of his fights, going 3-0 since making his UFC debut in 2018 with a pair of rear naked chokes against Andre Ewell and Jose Alberto Quiñones. A win over Dodson on Saturday would extend the 26-year-old’s winning streak to nine fights — dating back to 2016 where he fought his lone fight in Bellator MMA. Beating a ranked opponent might not leapfrog Wood into the top 15, but it will undoubtedly have him knocking on the door.
Ray Borg versus #7 Rogerio Bontorin is an under-the-radar matchup that is worth keeping your eyes on.
Borg has battled a mountain of adversity outside of the cage with his own health and the health of his son, Borg, who was also a victim of Conor McGregor’s infamous bus attack.
Make no mistake, Borg has high-level skill despite being unranked. As of the time of this article, the hometown guy, Borg, is the slight favorite at -150.
Bontorin is undefeated since making it to the UFC by way of the Contender Series in 2018, and only has one loss on his professional record. The young Brazilian is a solid grappler with a variety of submission finishes in his career, supporting an overall high finish rate with a few KO/TKO finishes sprinkled in.
With the flyweight division set to crown a new champion in the next few weeks, this fight is pivotal in setting up some potential big matchups at the top of the division. A great showing may also open the door to actually signing more flyweights to the promotion.
In the main event, there is potentially a title shot on the line in the light heavyweight division. #5 Corey “No Time” Anderson takes on Poland’s #6 Jan Blachowicz for the second time (Anderson won by unanimous decision back in 2015).
Anderson won The Ultimate Fighter at just 3-0 to get into the UFC and has gone 9-4 in the promotion with his most notable victory being his last fight where he violently finished the surging Johnny Walker just two minutes into the first round.
Blachowicz is riding a two-fight win streak with victories coming against Jacare Souza and a first-round knockout against the former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. MMA math usually never adds up, but Anderson and Blachowicz have both fought Jimi Manuwa. Anderson lost by knockout, and Blachowicz won by decision.
Anderson is a grinder with a grapple heavy style that will push the pace on Saturday night. With an exciting win, Anderson can stake his claim for a shot at UFC gold against Jon Jones. However, he may once again find himself in limbo after the impressive performance from Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 has many demanding a rematch of that instant classic.
Other notable stories:
- The Ultimate Fighter season one champion Diego “ The Nightmare” Sanchez has had more than 30 fights in the promotion and makes the walk-in his native New Mexico for the co-main event against Michel Pereira.
- Husband and wife Mark and Montana De La Rosa make UFC history as the first spouses to fight on the same card.
- Tim “Dirty Bird” Means makes a quick turnaround to fight at home in New Mexico after a first-round submission over Thiago Alves back in December 2019.
-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