The fight is over.
Jan Błachowicz win.
Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold makes his light heavyweight debut at UFC 239, as he takes on the experienced Jan Blachowicz at 205 pounds this weekend.
Luke Rockhold steps into the Octagon for the first time since February last year, with the 34-year-old trying his luck in a light heavyweight division packed with talent. First up is #6 contender Jan ‘Prince of Cieszyn’ Blachowicz, who comes into the fight on the back of a defeat to Thiago Santos in February.
That third-round TKO loss halted the momentum of a four-fight win streak that included victories over Jared Cannonier and Jimi Manuwa, which stopped the rot after a run of four defeats in five contests. Blachowicz was on his way to a title shot before losing to Santos, and he needs a win here to get back amongst the reckoning when it comes to a shot at champion Jon Jones.
The 36-year-old Pole is running out of time, and perhaps that played a part when he lost his concentration to suffer a clean knockout against Santos. Blachowicz can’t afford to make the same mistake here, in an intriguing match-up between two accomplished kickboxers. They can both finish fights on the ground too, with Blachowicz winning 39% of his fights by submission, and Rockhold 50%.
Despite his inactivity over the last few years, fighting only twice since losing his middleweight title to Michael Bisping in June 2016, Rockhold starts as the odds-on favourite with all of the top betting sites. He is 4/7 to mark his 205-pound debut with a win, while Blachowicz is available at 6/4.
Rockhold had been struggling at 185 pounds, and light heavyweight should suit him better as he enters the final stage of his career. A crucial element to this fight will be whether the American’s power packs the punch required at this weight. Blachowicz is a tough competitor, with his KO defeat last time out his first in eight years.
The Pole will target Rockhold’s chin, which comes with question marks, especially as he steps up in weight. If the fight goes to the ground, Rockhold’s skills give him the edge, so Blachowicz will try to keep this one on the feet. We’re likely to see a lot of exchanges at range, and the man who can connect with the best shots on the outside will take the initiative, which is why Rockhold starts as the bookmakers’ favourite.
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John Abrams is a passionate sports fanatic who follows NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAB and Formula 1. A former sports trader, John has an unquestioned thirst for sports knowledge and often fills his time playing fantasy or placing wagers online.
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