Jan Blachowicz is a guy with a great sense of humor who laughs easily and never takes himself too seriously. Because English is his second language and because it has only gained prominence recently, it is still not very well known to MMA fans in the United States.
But his notoriety rose after beating middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in a fight in February.
On Saturday, Blachowicz, 38, will defend his light heavyweight title for the second time when he takes on Glover Teixeira, 42, in the main event of UFC 267 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
When a reporter suggested to him that it could be billed as the âbattle of the grandmasters,â he quickly hit back.
“Maybe the winner could fight you,” he told the reporter, who is sadly much over 42 and not in good shape to fight anyone. âAfter this tough fight that we will have, maybe we will need an easy fight. What are you saying?”
What Blachowicz has said since the start of his MMA career has always been yes. He’s never dodged an opponent and he’s always faced off against the elite challengers presented to him.
It sort of prepared him for his reign as a champion, when there are no easy nights and the challengers are always at their best for what they know to be their last attempt to win the belt.
Blachowicz was never one of the guys announced or had the chance to build his record. So he knows what it’s like to be intense and prepared every night.
âIf you ever think it’s going to be easy, this is not the right sport for you,â he said. âThere are all tough guys in this sport. They all have their own style and what they do, but you can’t go there expecting an easy night out or you’ll have a big surprise.
And so Teixeira will only be the latest in a string of tough opponents for Blachowicz, who has won victories over Adesanya, Dominick Reyes, Corey Anderson, Jacare Souza, Luke Rockhold, Jimi Manuwa and Jared Cannonier, among others, during of his UFC run.
Over the past four years, Blachowicz has been on a 9-1 streak where the majority of those big wins have come. He said the reason is simple: experience. Fighting the best taught him not only a lot about the sport, but also himself.
âI know what I need and what is best for my body,â he said. âI know when to push and I know when to take a break. And I know what I need to work on and it just helped me evolve and keep reaching that higher level, the higher level, the higher level.
He faces a rejuvenated Teixeira, who has won five in a row and six of his last seven. In 39 pro fights, he lost seven times, including three by knockout.
Blachowicz’s goal is to make four.
“This is the way to go if you can, because then there are no questions, no judges to fear,” said Blachowicz, who has eight wins by knockout and nine by submission among his 28 wins in career. âOf course I want to knock him out if I can. That’s what I’m going to try to do.
His confidence, both in his power and in doing what needs to be done in the moment, increased in the aftermath of an impressive and overwhelming knockout victory over Rockhold, the former middleweight champion, at UFC 239. July 6, 2019.
He dominated this fight from the start and knocked out Rockhold in the second round with a crushing left hook that broke his jaw.
The victory was the first in his five-game winning streak and affirmed in his mind that he was a legitimate contender.
âTaking down a guy of his caliber was important,â said Blachowicz. “It let me know that what I was doing was right and that the things I was doing for [prepare] were working. He’s a guy who has been a champion and who has done a lot of great things in this sport. It helped me to go even further.
He can’t go much further than he has, as a UFC champion. The question now is to stay ahead. Only the best of the best retain the title for more than one or two defenses.
Blachowicz was not a household name when he started in the UFC, but he could still be.