Jimi Manuwa fought strategically against Yan Blachowicz tonight at UFC Fight Night 64, opting for a lot more clinch work than we’re used to seeing from him as he homed in on a unanimous decision victory.
Manuwa pressing forward to start and takes a jab from Blachowicz before landing his own body kick.
Manuwa moves forward slowly again and Blachowicz looking to work behind his jab. Vicious punch from Manuwa and Blachowicz backs up.
Punch to the body from Manuwa and then clinches against the cage. Couple of knees exchanged in close and a couple of punches to the body.
Manuwa reaches for a takedown, but that gives Blachowicz a chance to break away. Manuwa with a kick. He tries another couple and Blachowicz tries to catch one. Doesn’t quite pay off though and Manuwa is back into the clinch against the cage. Surprising he’s not being a bit more active on the offensive front, but perhaps he’s pacing himself.
More knees from the clinch. Ref urging them to work as the action slows here. They are then broken apart and Manuwa moves forward slowly again and then unleashes a series of straight punches down the pipe before going back into the clinch.
Blachowicz reverses the position this time with about a minute to go. Blachowicz lands a hook as he moves away. Back to the striking again we go and the Polish fighter lands a little flurry as he’s moving backwards.
Blachowicz with a kick and now Manuwa looking to land his own. Manuwa with a final leg kick to end the round.
Manuwa with a leg kick to start and his opponent responds in kind. Manuwa whips a hook in, but it doesn’t find the target. Manuwa with a body shot now.
Brief stoppage as Manuwa gets caught in the eye and then they are back to it. Manuwa moving forward aggressively, but eats a body kick.
Manuwa doing the pressing, but not fully letting his hands go. He’s hit by another body kick. They exchange in close and then Blachowicz opts for the clinch.
Manuwa moves away from the cage still in the clinch. Blachowicz thinks about a takedown, but Manuwa maintains his balance. Manuwa is able to walk his opponent to the cage now with half the round remaining.
Knee and a hook to the temple from Manuwa in the clinch. He continues to lands a few knees to the thigh. Blachowicz turns around and then breaks free after landing a knee of his own.
Blachowicz with the jab and then a body kick. He tries for a hook too. Manuwa wants into the clinch again, but chews on an uppercut first.
Still curious to see Manuwa not offering more action on the feet, certainly this is not his usual style.
They are separated by the ref again and Manuwa starts to put some mustard behind a few kicks. Final 30 seconds. Knee and punches from Blachowicz. Hard body punch from Manuwa who then clinches again until the buzzer.
Leg kick from Manuwa. Both men land a hook apiece. Another body kick for Manuwa as Blachowicz is backed against the cage.
Blachowicz with the jab on the retreat. He doubles up on it now and lands a leg kick. Manuwa with a big leg kick and a punch behind it, then to the clinch again.
Knees from here from the UK fighter. Manuwa happy to work from here as we approach three minutes to go. Blachowicz turns him around and when he moves away he tries for a head kick that’s blocked.
Manuwa moving forward with a little more urgency and lets go with a short flurry.
He continues following Blachowicz and opts for the clinch again. Manuwa drops down looking for a takedown, but it doesn’t happen and then the ref separates them.
Manuwa forward with strikes and then into the clinch yet again. They continue in this position moving to the middle of the cage then separate with 90 seconds to go.
He unleashes another little flurry of punches and back to the clinch. Back to the striking now with Manuwa offering more offense.
Manuwa lands a punch going forward and clinches. Thankfully it’s a short spell this time and then Manuwa is back to striking range again.
Final seconds now and Manuwa is more aggressive at last with a few punches and a knee that lands to the head before the final buzzer sounds.
So, a surprisingly cautious performance from KO specialist Manuwa, but he still does enough to earn a unanimous decision win (30-27 x2, 29-28).
In his post-fight interview Manuwa reveals that he had an injury in training camp that almost forced him out of the fight which explains his uncharacteristically ‘safe’ strategy in the fight.