Jan Blachowicz’s journey to the UFC title got off to a strange start. But the former champion will surely swallow it.
Blachowicz defeated Aleksandar Rakic via TKO at 1:11 of the third round after Rakic sustained an injury to his right knee. Blachowicz landed a combination and Rakic stepped back. When he planted his right hind leg, the knee seemed to give in. Rakic immediately went down and referee Mark Smith intervened to call off the match.
Earlier this week, Blachowicz described his desire to regain the UFC light heavyweight title by comparing it to the character Gollum from the “Lord of the Rings” movies trying to get the precious ring. In a division where victories are not easy to achieve, Blachowicz was not too ashamed of this victory. And he performed well leading up to the finish.
“He had an injury, it is what it is,” Blachowicz said in his post-fight interview. “I can’t wait to step back in with this kind of feeling, with this joy. And I hope the UFC gives me the next title shot.”
This was Blachowicz’s first fight since handing over the light heavyweight title to Glover Teixeira via second-round submission at UFC 267 last October. When he came in, ESPN had Blachowicz at number 2 and Rakic at number 5 in the world as a light heavyweight.
Blachowicz had great first round success with his low leg kicks to Rakic’s left calf. By the end of the round, Rakic had swelling and several hematomas on that calf. Rakic went for a takedown and got it on the second round, probably because his lead leg was compromised.
“This is our secret weapon,” Blachowicz said. “In the gym we always kick it. … I knew he was slowing down, slowing down, slowing down.”
Rakic opened a cut on the inside of Blachowicz’s left eye on the first round with a nice jab and did some solid ground work in the second. In the third, Blachowicz did well on the feet, landing a punch combo – a left hook to the body and overhand right to the head – successfully, plus the leg kicks.
Blachowicz (28-9) had a five-fight winning streak last year that was broken by Teixeira. The Polish-born fighter knocked out Dominick Reyes to win the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 253 in September 2020 and then successfully defended it against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 in March 2021. Blachowicz, 39, has won 10 of his past. 12 fights.
Rakic (14-3) took a unanimous win over Thiago Santos at UFC 259 and had racked up two consecutive wins prior to Saturday. The Austrian, of Serbian descent, has won a total of six out of eight UFC fights. Rakic, 30, is considered one of the best MMA prospects to come out of Central Europe.