The pressure is on UFC light heavyweight Corey Anderson this weekend at the UFC event in Rio Rancho.
The fifth-ranked fighter in the 205-pound fold, Anderson could place himself closer to an eventual title shot with a successful performance on Saturday against surging Polish contender Jan Blachowicz (who, in fairness, could do the same with a win) but, with the landscape of the division having changed somewhat since last week’s razor-thin UFC 247 main event between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes, Anderson knows that he needs to put in a definitive performance to state his case to be the next man up for the champion.
And, as he said to TMZ, Jones is ripe for the picking.
“I knew he was beatable,” Anderson said. “I was the one that always said, ‘I know I can beat Jon, I know ways to beat him.’ I see the holes, I see what you got to do to beat him, and Dom went out there and did pretty much a lot of it. He went out there and did another blueprint of things that I had already seen, but I see so much more.”
Anderson has rebounded from a run of three defeats in four fights in 2016/7 to piece together a four-fight win streak including a sensation early knockout of Johnny Walker in his last fight in what is the best run of his six-year UFC career to date and he says that he has gathered the necessary tools to become the best fighter in the weight class.
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Fight week ritual in New Mexico. . . . . Sunday= recovery day! Thank you to @truerestabq for helping me stay on track. Float was great as always and I’m ready to attack fight week full force! (Don’t pay my tag on my hat any attention) . . . . #recovery #floattank #truerest #sundayfunday #relax #float #epsomsalt #OT #feelgood #fightgreat #ufc #ufcriorancho #thetimeisnow
“I got more in my tank, and I got more in my style in the way I fight that Dom doesn’t that I think is going to be a problem for him. But at the end, I’m happy that Jon got the win because I get to be the one to dethrone him.
“When I was watching, I was like, ‘Man, I could lose that opportunity to be the one to beat Jon,’” he explained. “It could have gone either way, especially when he got caught with a couple of shots and looked like he might have been hurt. Dom is usually known for pouring it on, but he (was) just so tired, he couldn’t do it.
“Dominick threw more punches and landed more, but, percentage-wise, I think Jon landed more. You could flip the coin on that one, it could have went either way.”
First comes the Blachowicz rematch (Anderson won their 2015 meeting), who has earned high profile wins against Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza in his last two fights but Anderson knows that another win — his fifth in a row — would begin to force UFC matchmakers’ hands when identifying the next challenger in what is a division of fighters all with their eyes trained on (the now seemingly human) longtime champion.
Watch this space.