Jan Blachowicz expected to be in Columbus, Ohio last weekend, making his first start since losing his UFC light heavyweight title in a main event bout against Aleksandar Rakic.
But, with MMA being MMA, an injury forced the Poland native from the bout, with the two 205-pound standouts now set to meet on May 14. It’s an unfortunate delay for Blachowicz, who said in January that he was eager to make a quick return after his October clash with Glover Teixeira, even if he kept his belt in the UFC 267 headliner.
“Even if I won the fight, I also would like to come back at this time,” he said. “I had a little bit of a break, a little bit of vacation after the fight, then it was Christmas time, New Year's, and after the New Year I just thought I'd do my training camp - three months was the perfect time to go back inside the Octagon. It's something I like to do. It's my job, it's my passion, it's something good I love doing - hitting people on their face is nice.”
Blachowicz laughs, a typical response from the affable 39-year-old who takes his fighting seriously, but not seriously enough that he can’t find time for a little levity. But I know why he wanted to jump back into camp so soon - it spares him some diaper duty for his son, Jan Jr.
“You got me,” he laughs. “That was my secret.”
Well, we all like to dodge diaper changing, but outside of that, Blachowicz is a doting dad who is embracing the rollercoaster that is fatherhood.
“This is also an adventure for me,” he said. “And I enjoy it. Sometimes it's hard, but when I see the smile on his face, I forget about everything and I'm just happy, also.
It’s a good moment in the life of the veteran prizefighter, who paid his dues, and then some, on his way to the light heavyweight title. And when he finally got his shot at the crown in September 2020 and beat Dominick Reyes, it was one of the feel-good stories of the year. A successful defense against middleweight boss Israel Adesanya followed, but then he ran into Teixeira, another old school warrior, who submitted Blachowicz in the second round. It was the type of fight where you didn’t want either man to lose, a testament to two combatants who have done things the right way. And that’s always been Blachowicz’ M.O.
“I try to do my best and I don't try to be someone different,” he said. “This is who I am. I don't want to be fake. Fighters try to be weird on the internet, trash talking and stuff like that.”
That’s not Blachowicz’ style, just like he’s not one to call for an immediate title shot. But a win over Rakic, and he may be in line for the winner of UFC 275’s clash between Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka.
Jan Blachowicz | Best Moments
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Jan Blachowicz | Best Moments
“If I beat Rakic in a good way, maybe,” he said. “I'm number one, he's number three, so I believe after this fight maybe they give me the rematch, but I don't think about that. First of all, I have to think about Rakic, about this fight, and after that, if I knock him out or submit him in the first, second or third round after a good fight, then I will start talking about the next title shot. For me, it would be perfect at the end of this year to be the champion again.”
Guess he misses carrying that belt around.
“Yeah, it's a nice feeling,” he laughs. “Now I've got a belt only to hold my pants, so I need to get this better one. It's more expensive - I like gold.”
But he likes the acts of actually training and fighting even more, and that’s what keeps him excited about still doing it.
“This is something that I love to do,” Blachowicz. “When I don't go to the gym and I don't train or spar or meet my friends in the gym, I miss it. When I take a two or three week break after the fight, after one week I start thinking about what they're doing in the gym. (Laughs) I need to go and see my friends and my team and my coaches. I think I'm addicted. This is something like drugs to me.
“I think this started when I was a little kid,” he continues. “I liked combat sports, I liked watching movies with combat heroes and I wanted to be a sportsman. I wanted to be a fighter when I was 18 years old, and I said to myself, this is my dream, I want to be the best in the world, and this is how I want to live my life, by doing something that I love, have money from that, and enjoy life. That's it. This is not a big secret; I just do what I love to do. This is my passion, my job also, and I'm just a happy man that I can do my passion and my job at the same time.”