Jan Blachowicz was leaving a press conference after defeating Alexander Rakic in Las Vegas on May 14, 2022 when someone wished him good luck. Glover Teixeira was preparing to fight Jiří Prochazka a month later for the light heavyweight title, and Blachowicz was desperate to fight the winner.
When Blachowicz heard the good luck wish, he paused for a moment, chuckled and said, “Let’s hope something good happens next.”
Well, it turns out that something good happened for Blachowicz, very good indeed, although he didn’t realize it when he signed to fight Magomed Ankalaev in the co-main event of UFC 282.
This card takes place on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and Blachowicz suddenly finds himself in the place he hoped to be when leaving the press conference in May: he is in the main event fighting for the title.
However, when he left his native Poland to fly to Las Vegas, he had no idea.
He was flying to Las Vegas when it became known that Prochazka, who defeated Teixeira in the last seconds of their match at UFC 275, injured his shoulder in training and was forced to pull out of the rematch. The Blachowicz-Ankalaev fight became the main event for the vacant title when it was vacated by Prochazka even though Blachowicz was completely unaware.
“I never use Wi-Fi when I’m on a plane,” Blachowicz said. “For me it’s like therapy: I forget about everything that happens on earth. I just enjoy flying, playing games and stop thinking about the world.”
When his plane landed at Harry Reed International Airport, the whole world moved closer. He turned on his phone and was bombarded with notifications of missed calls, emails and text messages.
“I knew something important happened when I turned it on because it’s very unusual, but I didn’t know what it was,” Blachowicz said.
He learned from his manager, who turned out to be his fiancée, that the Prochasca-Teixeira fight had been canceled and that he now had to fight for the title in five rounds.
Didn’t register right away.
“After 10 hours in the air, I was tired, sleepy, just not quite enthusiastic, and she said to me: “Congratulations, you have a title shot,” he said, chuckling. “I’m like, ‘What? She explained this to me and I was very excited. It was the best news to wake up.”
Once on the ground, he had to prepare for a five-round instead of a three-round. He didn’t complain, mind you, but that extra 10 minutes often separates great from near-great.
Blachowicz has been aiming for another shot at the belt since losing it to Teixeira in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates at UFC 267 on October 30, 2021. Teixeira dominated the fight and defeated him in the second round to win the title. belt.
This loss stuck in Blachowicz’s stomach because he believed it wasn’t him. His career changed dramatically when he was in his 30s and he rightfully became one of the elite 205-pound fighters. He has won victories over the likes of Israel Adesanya, Luke Rockhold, Dominick Reyes, Jacare Souza, Corey Anderson, Jared Cannonier and Nikita Krylov, among others. He was 9-1 in his last 10 matches before the Teixeira fight.
However, that night he was not himself.
“The only rematch I really want is with Glover because, I don’t know, I didn’t like how it went,” he said. “It’s what it is, but it’s the only fight I’m not in [fight] the way I wanted or could.”
He didn’t get an easy test, not that he wanted one. Ankalaev 18-1 and one second away from 19-0. He was submitted one second before the end of his fight with Paul Craig in 2018. He was statistically ahead and would have won if he could have lasted one more second.
He was very impressive, especially during the second round stoppage of Anthony Smith at UFC 277.
Blachowicz knows what he’s getting into.
“He’s good, very good,” Blachowicz said. “However, at this level, this is not surprising. When you’re fighting for a title or close to a title fight, you know what kind of fights you’re going to have.”
He really wants to regain the title because he is such a contender and that will set him up for a rematch with Teixeira. Blachowicz said that winning the title for the first time remains a monumental event in his life.
He became only the second UFC champion from Poland after his longtime friend, former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. His life changed dramatically when Dana White wrapped the belt around his waist after he knocked out Reyes for the vacant title.
The reaction at home was stormy.
“It’s hard to say in a few words how much my life has changed, but trust me, my life has changed dramatically,” he said. “I still have a lot to do, which is good, but I appreciate it because it brings joy to people in Poland, many of whom are fighting for their lives. For me, winning the belt was a huge event for so many people back home, and while it changed my life a lot, it also did a lot for some people who didn’t have a lot of good news in their lives.”