Las Vegas – Jan Blachovich knew he needed to change things up in his approach next Lost the UFC Light Heavyweight Title to Glover Teixeira last year. The joy of the match was gone for Blachowicz and he knew that at the age of 39, he had to find her fast.
Saturday’s Blachowicz looked like the man who won five in a row and nine out of 10 before losing his UFC 267 title to Teixeira on October 30.
He stopped Aleksandar Rakic in third, but it’s a victory that will live on with an asterisk. Blachowicz threw his left hand kick at Rakic. As Rakić was turning away, his right knee collapsed and he went down.
Referee Mark Smith immediately halted the match at 1:11 of the third round in Apex and awarded Blashovic a very decisive victory. He dreams of reclaiming the title and is now in a position to take on the winner of the Teixeira match Jerry Prochaska, which takes place on June 11 in Singapore.
A UFC spokeswoman said Rakic will have an MRI on Monday to check for damage to the MCL and LCL.
It was a disappointing end to what was shaping up to be a great match. Round one, in particular, was a lively and back-and-forth affair that demonstrated the skills of both men.
“Definitely [it is disappointing to win via an injury]Blachowicz said. I’m a fighter and a warrior and that’s even better when you win a KO or a clean submission. My body was a lot tougher tonight. I was ready for three, four, five tough rounds. “
Blachowicz was kicking hard on Rakic’s legs, trying to slice them open and take his power away from him. Rakic is one of the best strikers in the UFC and he’s moving forward relentlessly. Due to the quality of Rakic’s chin, he can eat punches that allow him to groom his chin.
So Blachowicz’s strategy of attacking the legs was sound. And while it’s impossible to say whether the kicks directly injured Rakic - “That’s a question for him,” Blachovich said, it certainly didn’t hurt.
More than anything else, though, Blachowicz reclaimed a fire in his game that, for some reason, wasn’t there at UFC 267 when he lost his title to Teixeira. There were a few dozen Polish fans in the building and they were making a lot of noise cheering for Blachowicz.
It also gave them plenty to cheer about, too. I caught up with Rakic with a mix up with just over two minutes into the first round, and followed it up with a big hook a minute later.
Despite this, Rakic was not a punching bag and was scoring on his own. Blachowicz was hit in his left eye early in the start which opened a wound around it. Blachowicz didn’t really hold back much.
Both guys were holding the pedal to the floor and were working hard, clearly not keen on going for five rounds. And that was a good test for Blachowicz, who Working with a sports psychologist It clearly pays off.
He looked energetic as he walked into the octagon and fought as if another shot at the world title was swaying on his performance. Against an elite opponent who walked past many of his former opponents, Blachowicz not only delivered what he got, but his body language suggested there was no other place he would prefer.
And as he showed in his 9-1 streak before fighting Teixeira, the focused, equipped Blachowicz is just as dangerous as anyone else.
“I’m milking this answer, but this fight has given me the answer I want,” Blachovich said. “I feel the way I did before Glover, when I fought against Israel [Adesanya] and Dominic Reyes. I am happy. I go there inside the Octagon with a mission to do and a great fight, but also to have fun. And I had it. I enjoyed it.”
He will likely enjoy what’s to come, especially if the 42-year-old champ manages to defeat the prestigious Prochazka in Singapore next month. Before the fight, Teixeira tweeted that he would bring back Blachowicz if they both win.
Those were the words Blachovich wanted to hear.
“I hope the UFC will give me another title opportunity,” he said. “I was No. 1. Rakic was third. For me, it’s a no-brainer. I’m the number one contender now.”
Surely he fought like her on Saturday.
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”