Top 3 Fights: UFC Rio Rancho

UFC Rio Rancho goes down on Saturday night in the Santa Ana Star Center. There are a number of interesting fights taking place, so I decided to choose my top 3 fights that I think you (we) should be looking forward to.

3. Corey Anderson vs Jan Blachowicz II

Where better to start than the main event? After an exciting but controversial light heavyweight title contest that saw Jon Jones emerge victorious last weekend, our attention is again focused on the upper echelon of the 205lbs division.

First colliding back in 2015, Anderson and Blachowicz are set to rematch in what is potentially a number 1 contender match-up to determine who will next challenge Jon Jones’ championship. Coincidentally, the pair have both gone 7-3 in the UFC since their first fight, which “Overtime” (formerly “Beastin 25/8″) won comprehensively after taking over in the second round and dominating the rest of the bout.

Anderson is currently on a 4-fight win streak with a lot of momentum behind him. After his knockout victory over the undefeated surging prospect Johnny Walker in the first round, it’s hard to deny that Anderson has significantly evolved since 2015. Blachowicz has dangerous power in his hands though, and avenging this loss would bring him one step closer to an elusive title shot. It’s all to play for here in the main event!

2. Nathaniel Wood vs John Dodson

Nathaniel Wood has long been talked about as one of the future stars of UK MMA. Riding high on an 8-fight win streak, the former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion has looked more than capable since stepping up to face UFC-calibre opposition. Renowned for his incredible striking skills and unbreakable heart—go watch one of the greatest single-round fights in MMA history aka Wood’s first CW title defense vs Josh Reed RIGHT NOW for proof—it’s been somewhat surprising that Wood’s submission skills have been on full display in the UFC, which Johnny Eduardo, Andrew Ewell, and Jose Alberto Quiñones found out the hard way.

The Brad Pickett protégé faces the most puzzling challenge of his professional career to date, in the form of John “The Magician” Dodson this weekend. A former title challenger, Dodson has time and time again proven to be an elusive target and an incredibly difficult match-up for even the elite fighters of the flyweight and bantamweight divisions. That being said, Dodson is on a two-fight skid, and despite never having been finished in his MMA career, it’s undeniable that his best days in the cage are likely behind him. On the other hand, Wood is in ascendancy.

I feel that this match-up has the potential to be a passing-of-the-torch moment. The big question is can Nathaniel Wood make the transition from “The Prospect” to “The Contender.” The stage is set for Wood to make a big statement, and a win over a highly-respected vet in Dodson would provide the Londoner with a huge amount of recognition. A finish would put the entire division on notice and would surely propel Wood towards the top 10 of the UFC 135lbs roster.

1. Diego Sanchez vs Michel Pereira

I’m sorry, but if you don’t like this fight then you are the least fun human reading this article. Diego Sanchez vs Michel Pereira is the type of fight that brings MMA back to its roots: complete and utter chaos. Diego Sanchez is a certified wild man. It’s absolutely insane to think that “Nightmare” first entered the UFC fray on the original season of TUF over 15 years ago. It’s even crazier that Sanchez has somehow managed to stay relatively competitive all the way through 2020.

Sure, he’s taken his licks over the years, but he’s never exceeded a two-fight skid and recently beat the brakes off Craig White and Mickey Gall in consecutive fights. Sanchez only has one speed setting and it’s “GO!” which makes him the perfect opponent for arguably the most erratic fighter in the history of the UFC, Michel “Demolidor” Pereira.

Before we go any further on Pereira, you NEED to watch this gif (hat tip to Caposa).

See! You’re already a fan. How can you not be? Expect flying knees, back flips, rolling thunders, flying kicks off the cage, explosive power, and every other utterly exhausting attribute you can think of when it comes to Michel Pereira. He’s essentially a real-life version of someone who button mashes while playing the UFC video game, and the best part is he pulls it off most of the time! You will be exhausted just watching him walk to the cage.

This one is a fight for the fans. I fully expect Sanchez and Pereira to come out of the gates swinging for the fences. It will be an absolute travesty if this one goes to decision, as it has all the makings of one of the most absurdly chaotic fights the UFC could put on today. Pereira will also look approximately twice the size of Sanchez, which will add to the visual masterpiece on display. Forget about the results.

Just sit back and enjoy!

Andy is a multimedia reporter, interviewer, writer, with a strong focus on Irish MMA. Co-host of The Auld Triangle podcast. Follow Andy on Twitter (@andyste123) and Instagram (@andystevensonMMA).

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