On April 8, 2017, Jan Blachowicz was at the low point of his professional fighting career after suffering his fourth loss in five fights. A lot of fighters may not have kept their place on the UFC roster with a run like that.
Yet Blachowicz not only survived, he thrived. He won four in a row and earned a bonus performance in three of those victories.
The turnaround since that night is still going alive today as Blachowicz ended up parlaying seven wins in eight fights into a light heavyweight title shot against Dominick Reyes at UFC 253.
“It’s been a nice six years, but the losses were really good experiences,” Blachowicz said. “Not just as a sportsman but in real life. I deserve this and one more step and I’ll be the champion.”
Blachowicz’ resume isn’t short of impressive wins. He’s faced and beaten the who’s who of the division (Jared Cannonier, Corey Anderson, Jacare Souza, Luke Rockhold, Nikita Krylov, Jimi Manuwa). But on Saturday he may face his toughest test yet.
Across the cage from Blachowicz will be the most recent title challenger, Reyes, who arguably came closer to beating Jon Jones than anyone ever has. That speaks volumes, as Jones is considered to be one of the greatest fighters of all-time. A big portion of the MMA community actually believes Reyes deserved to dethrone Jones when the two met in February.
Blachowicz has a different opinion.
“No,” Blachowicz responded when asked if he thought Reyes beat Jones. “It was a really good fight but me and my whole team watched and thought Jones was a little better. But not by much.”
Blachowicz admitted he was a little disappointed when Jones relinquished the belt. He wanted to be the one to finally hand Jones a loss when the belt was on the line. “Right now is just about Reyes and I’ll catch Jones later,” Blachowicz said.
He’s right in keeping his attention focused on Reyes. Blachowicz has a chance to be the first non-Jones or Daniel Cormier light heavyweight title holder since 2011.
“It’s amazing and a historic moment for all of Poland, Blachowicz said. “I can’t wait to step off the plane and see what will happen over there.”
Blachowicz is, of course, referring to the potential celebration in his homeland if he returns with UFC gold, but there was a time when he was nervous none of this would come to fruition. After his knockout win over Corey Anderson in February, Blachowicz knew he had put together a resume worthy of a title shot. But then the pandemic hit. For the first week of the pandemic, Blachowicz didn’t train at all. Then he got back to the grind.
He trained in a secret place with just a couple partners and after Jones’ announcement he knew the opportunity would come.
“2020 is a crazy year for everybody. But we have opportunities to fight and I cannot wait,” Blachowicz said. “(Reyes) thinks he knows me. But when we start, he’ll feel differently.”
Blachowicz rebounding from his skid in 2017 was a pivotal moment in his career. It got him to where he is today. But the biggest moment is still ahead of him.
“Getting the belt is the biggest thing in my life as a sportsman,” Blachowicz said. “After this, I don’t know, I’ll be happy like never before.”
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