Pasar al contenido principal
Jan Blachowicz of Poland interacts with Magomed Ankalaev of Russia in their UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Jan Błachowicz Welcomes New, Yet Familiar Challenge

Former Light Heavyweight Champ Welcomes Another Ex-Middleweight Standout To The 205-pound Ranks When He Takes On Alex Pereira In Saturday’s UFC 291 Co-main Event

As a child, Jan Blachowicz watched films with beautiful outdoor locales, mountainous terrain, and idyllic depictions of the American West. Like many his age, he dreamed of being a cowboy, living in those places he saw on television, putting on his hat every day as he stepped from his home.

“This is perfect for me!” He said on Tuesday morning, a sharp new Cowboy hat, given to him by some local residents, resting on his bedside table. “I’m here for more than 10 days, getting used to the climate, the time zone, the altitude. I enjoy Salt Lake City; it’s an amazing place.

Order UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2

“When I was a kid and watched western movies, if you go outside Salt Lake, you see (that) — everything like true America; I like it. I feel great here; right at home.”

Although he feels at home, the 40-year-old Polish fighter is actually on a business trip, set to climb into the Octagon against former middleweight champion Alex Pereira in the co-main event of UFC 291 this Saturday at the Delta Center.

Jan Blachowicz | Best Moments
fight pass logo
Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

This video is not available in your country

There was a problem while loading content. Please try again.

Jan Blachowicz | Best Moments
/

In addition to the surroundings of Salt Lake City feeling homey and familiar, the task before the former light heavyweight champion this weekend is also something he’s faced before.

Blachowicz has previously shared the Octagon with a troika of fighters moving up from middleweight — former Strikeforce and UFC champion Luke Rockhold, former Strikeforce champ and perennial UFC contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and current middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya.

How To Watch UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2

“I don’t know,” he said with a laugh, lifting his arms in the universal “beats me” shrug when asked about constantly being chosen to welcome former middleweights to the 205-pound ranks. “Maybe this is my part in this game: to show them whether they can be at 205 or not.

“Until now, they cannot.”

Jan Blachowicz of Poland punches Aleksandar Rakic of Austria in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jan Blachowicz of Poland punches Aleksandar Rakic of Austria in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Rockhold got knocked out at UFC 239. Four months later, Blachowicz edged out Souza on the scorecards in a competitive bout in Sao Paulo. And a little over two years ago, he shared the Octagon with Adesanya, entering as the light heavyweight champion and the underdog, and leaving with the belt around his waist as the first man to defeat “The Last Stylebender."

“This is a different part of the game, and I want to show them,” he added, smiling, excited by the idea of once again representing the light heavyweight ranks against an invader from the 185-pound weight class. “They think ‘I spar with heavier guys in the gym,’ but sparring is sparring, and a fight is a fight; different movements, different power.

“Everything is new for them, and my job is to show them, and this time will be the same.”

UFC 291 COUNTDOWN: Full Episode | Poirier vs Gaethje | Błachowicz vs Pereira 

Saturday’s three-round battle with Pereira almost followed another familiar path for Blachowicz, as champion Jamahal Hill said he was relinquishing the light heavyweight title a couple weeks ago after suffering a torn Achilles, prompting many to wonder aloud whether the UFC would convert this weekend’s co-main event into a championship clash for the vacant title.

The same thing happened ahead of his fight with Magomed Ankalaev in December, as then champion Jiri Prochazka was forced to the sidelines with a serious shoulder injury. He too relinquished his title, and Blachowicz and Ankalaev were elevated into the five-round main event at UFC 282 with the vacant belt awaiting the winner.

But there was no winner.

Jan Blachowicz of Poland punches Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in their UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Jan Blachowicz of Poland punches Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in their UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Through three rounds, Blachowicz appeared on track to claim the title for a second time, having tenderized Ankalaev’s legs to the point where the Russian standout struggled to deal with each successive kick that landed. But over the final two rounds, Ankalaev turned to his wrestling, and Blachowicz had no answers, landing on the business end of a 10-8 round in the fifth, which resulted in the bout being scored a majority draw.

“Nothing happened, but it almost happened,” Blachowicz said of the potential deja vu situation with this weekend’s fight with Pereira. “I said, ‘Oh s***! Here we go again!’ but we stayed at three rounds. This time we didn’t change anything.”

While he’s admitted that the result with Ankalaev left him with a strange, in-between feeling having not lost, but also not won, Blachowicz put that fight behind him several months ago, and shifted his focus on Pereira as soon as it was announced that the former middleweight champion would be changing weight classes.

“I forget about this,” he said of the fight with Ankalaev. “Now it’s a new chapter, a new story for me, and I’m happy. I don’t need motivation for someone like Pereira.

“He’s a great fighter, great sportsman and that’s why I want to fight against people like him, and it’s something new,” added Blachowicz, who asked for the matchup with the menacing Brazilian. “What did I have to choose (from)? They don’t give me a title shot, so a rematch against Ankalaev? Rematch with Rakic? Okay, maybe someday in the future, but now I want something different, something new; new blood in the division.

“I like this kind of challenge. You don’t need any motivation.”

Few people have been raising their hands and approaching the UFC about sharing the Octagon with Pereira since he arrived on the roster a couple years ago.

Jan Blachowicz of Poland punches Dominick Reyes in their light heavyweight championship bout during UFC 253 inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on September 27, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Jan Blachowicz of Poland punches Dominick Reyes in their light heavyweight championship bout during UFC 253 inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on September 27, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

A physical specimen at six-foot-four with an outstanding kickboxing pedigree, “Poatan” earned four victories in 53 weeks to ascend to the top of the middleweight division, completing his journey by collecting a fifth-round stoppage win over his former kickboxing rival Adesanya in the main event of UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden last November.

He dropped the belt back to the City Kickboxing representative in April, felled by a swift, precise combination in the second round before quickly announcing his plans to relocate.

This Saturday, he makes the walk at light heavyweight for the first time, and Blachowicz is looking forward to welcoming him to the division, fully aware of the dangers facing Pereira presents and eager to test himself against him, just as he did against Rockhold, Souza, and Adesanya in the past.

“It’s not a secret that he’s a standup fighter — one of the best in the world; it’s hard to find a better striker — but I also like this part of the game, so I will try my standup against his,” he said. “I have to be careful in this part of the game — good knees, good kicks; left hand is very dangerous — so I need to keep my hands very high, all the time, but I want to try.

“It’s not a secret that if I have an opportunity to take him down, I will take him down, but I will not as soon as the fight starts just go to a takedown — I need to check my standup against his,” Blachowicz added. “If something goes wrong, I will wrestle, and when I take him down, the game will be mine; I will be the boss there.”

Remaining unbeaten against middleweight invaders is important for Blachowicz, chiefly for the pride that comes with constantly turning back former champions looking to make waves in a division he has always called home, but also because a win over Pereira this weekend likely puts him in a position to once again challenge for the UFC light heavyweight title.

“4-0 sounds very good for me,” he said with a wide smile when asked about attempting to turn back Pereira on Saturday. “I have to keep this record — clean. I’ll do everything that I can, I’ll use all the tools to keep them with an “0” against me.

“I know if I beat Pereira, my next fight will be for the title,” he said assuredly. “Jamahal has a serious injury and I wish him a fast recovery, but my next opponent after Pereira will be Prochazka, because I think he’s finished with his shoulder, everything is okay, and that’s going to be a great fight with him somewhere in Europe.

“But first, I’m focused on Alex Pereira this Saturday, and after that, we can talk about the next step.”

Order UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje

UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2 took place live from the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 29, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass