Jan Blachowicz’s journey back to the UFC title began in a strange way. But the former champion will definitely get it.
Blachowicz defeated Aleksandar Rakic via TKO at 1:11 of the third round after Rakic injured his right knee. Blachowicz landed a combination and Rakic took a step back. When he planted his right, back leg, his knee seemed to relax. Rakic came down immediately and referee Mark Smith intervened to stop the match.
Earlier in the week, Blachowicz described his desire to reclaim the UFC light heavyweight title, likening him to the character Gollum from the “Lord of the Rings” films trying to win the precious ring. In a category where victories are not easy to achieve, Blachowicz did not feel too ashamed of that victory. And he had a good performance until the finish.
“He had an injury, that’s what it is,” Blachowicz said in a post-match interview. “I look forward to getting back into this kind of feeling, with this joy. And I hope the UFC gives me the next chance at the title.”
This was Blachowicz’s first bout since leaving the lightweight title to Glover Teixeira in a run-off at UFC 267 last October. Entering, ESPN had Blachowicz at No. 2 and Rakic at No. 5 in the world in light heavyweight.
Blachowicz had a lot of success in the first round with his low kicks to Rakic’s left calf. By the end of the round, Rakic had swelling and several hematomas on his calf. Rakic went for a takedown and took it in the second round, probably because of how endangered his main leg was.
“This is our secret weapon,” Blachowicz said. “In the gym, we always kick it … I knew it was slowing down, slowing down, slowing down.”
Rakic opened a cut inside Blachowicz’s left eye in the first round with a nice jab and did a solid job on the ground in the second. In the third, Blachowicz did well on his feet, landing a fist combination – a left hook on the body and a right hand on the head – successfully, plus kicks.
Blachowicz (28-9) had a five-game winning streak cut by Teixeira last year. The Polish-born fighter defeated Dominick Reyes to win the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 253 in September 2020 and then successfully defended him against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 in March 2021. 39 Blachowic , has won 10 of his last 12 battles.
Rakic (14-3) came from a unanimous victory over Thiago Santos in UFC 259 and had two consecutive victories before Saturday. The Austrian-born Serb has won six of the eight UFC games in total. Rakic, 30, is considered one of the top MMA prospects in Central Europe.