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Corey Anderson: UFC finally ‘put some respect on my name’, now it’s time to earn a title shot

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Corey Anderson had a grudge to settle with the UFC ahead of his last fight.

Despite an impressive win streak and career longevity in the light heavyweight division, the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner didn’t seem to get any recognition when it came time to decide Jon Jones’ next opponent.

He changed that discourse after mauling highly touted prospect Johnny Walker last November in a first round TKO. The anger that had been simmering inside Anderson finally boiled over that night when he addressed the promotion in his post-fight interviews.

Following that stunning win along with his main event slot against Jan Blachowicz this weekend in New Mexico, Anderson feels like he finally has the UFC’s attention.

“I definitely think I’ve gained a little bit more respect and a better relationship,” Anderson told MMA Fighting. “I don’t feel like they’re trying to dog me out. I think I should be ready to go for the title fight instead of fighting again but they put some respect on my name. They recognize me now.

“Like Dana [White] said, ‘Corey wanted to send a message and we got it, we know who Corey Anderson is now’.”

In an ideal situation, Anderson would already be signing a contract to face Jones next after he eked out a decision over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247.

Still, the 30-year-old light heavyweight contender won’t complain too much considering the close proximity of his first UFC main event to the title fight last weekend. In his heart he believes the fight with Blachowicz was made so the winner could then move onto fight the champion.

“That’s why they set it up,” Anderson said. “That’s why my manager believes it was set up right after that fight. That’s why it was so fast. I definitely think they’re doing it so we both fought recently. It’s not like one fight is in January and the other fight is in June and now we’ve got to wait until the end of the year to fight.

“We can get active right away. After this fight, we can get the contract [to face Jon Jones] signed.”

If there’s a downside to this particular fight it’s that Anderson already beat Blachowicz in a largely one-sided contest back in 2015. At the time, Blachowicz already had three times as many fights as Anderson but the former college wrestler dominated him throughout all 15 minutes.

Facing him again nearly five years later, Anderson doesn’t see any vast differences in Blachowicz now versus then but he promises his progression has allowed him to develop a lot of new tools during that same span.

“It seems like he’s the same guy,” Anderson said about Blachowicz. “I don’t want to make it seem like I’m looking past him or that I doubt him but I’ve said it every fight he goes into, I call the combo he’s going to do. The same time that I’m calling when he does something else, I’ll say ‘watch he’s going to do this next’ and he does it. It’s the same thing since my fight with him.

“It shouldn’t be much different from the first fight. Then, I just had wrestling. That’s all I had was my wrestling and my grit. I’ve learned since then that my wrestling isn’t going to take me to the top. I have to put it all together. Now I have all those things that I needed. I have a lot more well-rounded game than I did then and I’m just continuing to get better.”

No matter what happened in their first fight, Anderson isn’t assuming that a win on Saturday night is already written in stone. If anything, he knows because he already has a victory over Blachowicz that his performance in the rematch needs to be even more impressive.

“I don’t want to seem cocky like I can’t lose,” Anderson said. “I just have confidence in myself and where I am. That’s why I’ve been doing so well the last four fights. I’m in a new spot in my life where I found my stride. I’m just going into the fight demonstrating what I do in the gym.”

He’s already walked a long road to even be considered in title contention so Anderson has no problem taking a few more steps in his fight against Blachowicz.

Nothing has come easy for Anderson yet and maybe that rather large chip on his shoulder will finally put him into position to compete for UFC gold before 2020 is finished.

“If I’ve got to beat everybody to get there, I’ll do it,” Anderson said. “So here I am. I’ll do it. I’ll beat everybody in there.

“I believe I’m better than everybody in this division. I beat him pretty bad the first time, my third fight in the UFC and sixth fight ever. Now I have 14 fights in the UFC and 17 fights ever. Now I’m more dangerous. I’m getting better, he’s getting older. I don’t think it’s going to be much different from the first time.”