On 23 February, the UFC will add another country to its list of visited locations, as the promotion is set to make its debut in the Czech Republic. The thirteen-fight card will take place in Prague, and from top to bottom, it looks pretty solid. The main event will see high-level light heavyweights Jan Blachowicz and Thiago Santos go to war, while promotional staple Stefan Struve will take-on Marcos Rogerio de Lima in the heavyweight co-main event. 

Let’s take a look at what can be expected from UFN 145’s main-card matches!


Main Event: Jan Blachowicz versus Thiago Santos

Intertops Betting Odds: Blachowicz -115, Santos -115

Jan Blachowicz, a skillful Polish mixed martial artist, has long been on the cusp of greatness in the UFC. The man’s slick submissions and thunderous strikes have helped him secure wins against the likes of Ilir Latifi, Jimi Manuwa, Nikita Krylov, and other high-level athletes. Just as impressive as the list of men Jan’s beaten in the UFC is the list of men he’s lost to; a close decision to Patrick Cummins, a decision to former title challenger Alexander Gustafsson, and decisions to Corey Anderson and Jimi Manuwa (the latter of which has been avenged) mark the only times he’s come up short in the Octagon. 

Now, on the heels of a four-fight winning streak, the former KSW champion is looking to take his career to the next level. 

To do so, he’ll have to get past one of the fiercest and most powerful light heavyweights signed to the UFC, Thiago Santos. Santos’s dangerous punches and kicks resulted in him picking-up knockout wins over Steve Bosse, Nate Marquardt, Jack Hermansson, and Anthony Smith, amongst others—at middleweight. Since making the jump to 205 lbs., Santos has gone undefeated, securing stoppage victories over Eryk Anders and Jimi Manuwa in his two divisional fights to this point. Light heavyweight is, to be sure, Santos’s proper weight class.  

Blachowicz can strike, but against such a hard-hitting opponent, he’ll probably look to grapple and utilize his solid top control and submissions. Moreover, Santos has been known to fade in some fights; the longer the twenty-five-minute match goes, the better it’ll bode for Jan. Santos, for his part, will likely look to uncork his punches and kicks from the time the first bell rings. 

Don’t miss this fantastic, evenly matched main event. 


Co-Main Event: Stefan Struve versus Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Intertops Betting Odds: de Lima -130, Struve +100

A strong overall fighter, Marcos Rogerio de Lima has only lost via submission in the UFC. Now, with a light heavyweight stint behind him—a stint that saw him have ample difficulty making weight—he’s returned to heavyweight and racked up a clear-cut win, which resulted in him nabbing this co-main event slot against Struve. 

Stefan Struve, although he’s just thirty-one years of age, has fought in the UFC for a decade. Along the way, he’s taken part in contests opposite the likes of Junior dos Santos, Pat Barry, Big Nog, Bigfoot Silva, and Stipe Miocic, the latter four of whom he’s defeated. Consistency has been the biggest problem for “The Skyscraper,” and he’ll need to return to his winning ways against de Lima if he wants to reemerge as a contender. 

For Struve, it’ll probably be tempting to try and exploit de Lima’s ground game; he’s once again lost via submission in each of his UFC defeats, and Struve has great submission skills. But to do so early would be somewhat risky; he should instead use his reach to hit de Lima from the outside before timing a careful takedown. For de Lima, this match is all about getting inside on the seven-foot-tall man, who also holds a ten-inch reach advantage. 

Whoever wins this bout will emerge as a contender; the loser will, unfortunately, have some work to do in terms of re-entering the title picture. 


Featured Fight: Gian Villante versus Micha? Oleksiejczuk

Intertops Betting Odds: Oleksiejczuk -200, Villante +160

Team Serra-Longo’s Gian Villante is flying a long way from New York City to battle Michal Oleksiejczuk, a near-undefeated twenty-three-year-old knockout artist. Villante will be the most durable and skillful opponent Michal has faced to date, and if he can win, his name will be entered into discussions for top-fifteen match-ups. 

Villante’s expert team is sure to come up with a solid gameplan for Oleksiejczuk; it’s difficult to say if it will involve taking the bout into deep waters or coming out guns-blazing, given that Michal is returning from a one-year drug suspension. However it goes down, this match-up between two leather-slinging light heavyweights should be entertaining, and it may even be “Fight of the Night.” 


Liz Carmouche versus Lucie Pudilova 

Intertops Betting Odds: Carmouche -140, Pudilova +110

Liz Carmouche is a skillful and durable bantamweight who, many fans forget, competed against Ronda Rousey in the UFC’s first women’s fight, and came closer than anyone else to locking-in a rear-naked choke. (What an alternate reality that would be!) In any event, Carmouche has put together a respectable UFC run, and she’ll need to be firing on all cylinders to best Lucie Pudilova, a Czech Republic-born mixed martial artist who’s been competing as a pro since nineteen. 

Carmouche should attempt to utilize her veteran experience and high-level grappling to overwhelm Pudliova. Pudliova, for her part, will need to stay composed and precise; one mistake against Liz will spell the end of the fight. This should be an enjoyable bantamweight contest. 


John Dodson versus Petr Yan

Intertops Betting Odds: Yan -280, Dodson +210

Jackson-Wink’s John Dodson won TUF 14 way back in 2011 by knocking out future-champion T.J. Dillashaw. Since then, he’s racked up an array of excellent wins, but consistency has been an issue; Dodson has been on the losing side of five total decisions, one of which was a split verdict against Marlon Moraes. “The Magician” strikes and grapples proficiently, and is, as a whole, one of the most well-rounded bantamweights in the UFC. Petr Yan is undefeated in six consecutive fights, and each of his matches is an exciting, pedal-to-the-metal affair. Expect him to push hard for the finish and Dodson, ever the strategist, to implement a careful and intelligent gameplan. 

There’s no telling how far a win here will catapult the victor up the bantamweight rankings. 


Magomed Ankalaev versus Klidson Abreu 

Intertops Betting Odds: Ankalaev -230, Abreu +175

Ankalaev and Abreu could very well be the future of the UFC’s light heavyweight division—or at least a big part of this future. Abreu is a twenty-six-year-old submission specialist who’s riding a six-fight winning and finishing streak. Ankaley, who is also twenty-six, is a finisher by nature; he’s won his last four fights via knockout, including a pivotal “Performance of the Night” finish in his last outing. 

It’s almost a shame that these skillful prospects have to clash so early in their careers, but when all is said and done, a new contender will move one step closer to getting a shot at gold. 

UFN 145 is set to go down 23 February 2019 from Prague, Czech Republic. The prelims will air on ESPN2 starting at eleven in the east and eight in the west (morning times, that is), and the main card highlighted here will take place at two in the afternoon in the east.

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