Just days before he received an offer to face Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in the main event of UFC Sao Paulo, Jan Blachowicz thought there was a genuine possibility he might get the next shot at Jon Jones.
With a 5-1 record in his past six fights, including a devastating second-round knockout against Luke Rockhold that broke the former middleweight champion’s jaw, Blachowicz was in early talks to potentially face the UFC’s light heavyweight king.
Blachowicz never allowed himself to get too excited, because conversations don’t always equal contracts.
“We talked with the UFC about Jon Jones; we tried to make it, but it didn’t happen,” Blachowicz said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Something went wrong; even Dana White said in some interview that they wanted to make the fight, but after one day, they changed their minds and we got the fight against ‘Jacare.’”
The end goal remains the same for the Polish standout – to compete for the light heavyweight title. But if there are good fights along the way, he won’t blink.
“(It’s) also a pleasure for me to fight against someone like that, because he’s also a legend,” Blachowicz said.
A world-class grappler, former Strikeforce champ and a perennial UFC contender, Souza presents his own problems. He’s the latest middleweight to move up to 205 pounds.
“Jacare” joins a growing group of 185-pound fighters—including former champions in Rockhold and Chris Weidman and veterans such as Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos—who have gone bigger as they’ve aged.
The results for that quartet has been mixed, but Blachowicz treats “Jacare” as a dangerous opponent rather than worrying about how he’ll adjust to fighting at 205 pounds.
“You have to be prepared for the best in every fight,” Blachowicz said. “For me, it’s another opponent. I don’t think he’s going to change his ways coming to my division. I’m going to prepare for the best version of ‘Jacare.’
“I don’t care if it’s someone cutting down from heavyweight, or moving up from middleweight to light heavyweight. It’s just another opponent, and I have to do a great job.”
Because Souza will give up size and power this weekend, there’s a distinct possibility the Brazilian will turn to grappling to negate Blachowicz’s biggest advantages.
If that’s his strategy, Blachowicz welcomes the Brazilian’s takedown attempts. He has no fear going to the canvas with anybody in the UFC.
“If he finds a way to take me down, I’ll be ready for his jiu-jitsu,” he said. “I’m also a black belt in jiu-jitsu, so I will not be afraid of his jiu-jitsu game. I would like to keep the fight on the feet and try to knock him out.
“MMA is not jiu-jitsu. MMA is not boxing. MMA is not wrestling. It’s a different kind of style of punching and wrestling and grappling on the ground. We will see. If the fight goes to the ground, I will try to submit him. I will try to control him on the ground and punch him in the face. I will be ready for his tricks.”
If Blachowicz is victorious this weekend, he’ll take another step toward that light heavyweight title. But given his recent past, he’s not wasting too much time thinking about it.
Jones has been teasing a fight against undefeated light heavyweight contender Dominick Reyes in the near future. There are just too many unknowns to contemplate what the champ does next.
Blachowicz believes he should be in line for a title shot with a win, but with Jones voicing doubts about the current crop of light heavyweight contenders, he’s not holding his breath.
“Nobody knows, because nobody knows what Jon Jones will do,” Blachowicz said. “I believe if I beat ‘Jacare’ I’m going to be a contender for the title shot. But nobody knows what (Jones) has in his head. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s going to happen.”