Jan Blachowicz has been counted out before.
Prior to his rematch with Corey Anderson this past year, the Polish veteran was mostly being seen as the last potential roadblock to the former Ultimate Fighter winner finally realizing his dream to compete for a UFC title. Considering Anderson had already dominated Blachowicz in a previous meeting, that only compounded the odds against him.
Blachowicz then blasted Anderson with a shot that ended the fight at just past the three-minute mark of the opening round.
Just over seven months later, Blachowicz was matched up against Dominick Reyes in a fight to crown a new light heavyweight champion after Jon Jones vacated his title and left the division. Because Reyes had pushed Jones to the limit in their fight months earlier, he was expected to cruise to a championship win and solidify himself as the new king at 205 pounds.
Less than two rounds into their fight at UFC 253, Blachowicz dispatched Reyes with a barrage of punches that crowned him the undisputed light heavyweight champion.
Judging by those examples it would seem crazy for anyone to discount Blachowicz any longer but just weeks ahead of his first title defense in a champion versus champion showdown against Israel Adesanya at UFC 259, he’s once again a sizable underdog. Oddsmakers have Adesanya sitting as over a 2-to-1 favorite to become the latest fighter to claim two division titles simultaneously but none of that diminishes Blachowicz from believing he’ll once again come out on top.
“I’m always the underdog and I always win the fight,” Blachowicz told MMA Fighting. “It’s really nice. I’m happy. I could be the underdog every time. Maybe after this fight when I win this fight, I believe I will win this fight, maybe after this fight people will start believing in me, respect me and that’s it. But anyways, I don’t care about this.
“A funny story, after I beat [Luke] Rockhold, I was also an underdog there and one guy after the fight came to me and said ‘thank you my friend, because thanks to you I’m a rich man right now’ and I said what happened? He said thanks to me he won $50,000. So it’s nice to hear something like that after that. Maybe right after this fight, someone will win big money also.”
While he will be stepping up 20 pounds to a bigger division, Adesanya has given no reason to believe he won’t keep rolling with the same momentum that has him sitting at 20-0 in his career with four consecutive victories in title fights.
Two of his championship performances in particular — a one-sided drubbing over former champion Robert Whittaker and a lopsided TKO against Paulo Costa — have Adesanya looking nearly unbeatable as he seeks to win a second UFC title in just his 10th fight with the promotion overall. Adesanya even commented recently that he’s had harder fights at middleweight than the challenge he expects Blachowicz to present to him.
Adesanya’s head coach Eugene Bareman has even said a move to heavyweight afterwards is possible to face “the ultimate challenge” with a potential showdown against Jones, who has engaged in a war of words with “The Last Stylebender” through interviews and over social media.
Maybe it’s all just talk but then again perhaps Adesanya really is looking past Blachowicz. Either way, the reigning UFC lightweight champion isn’t losing sleep over it.
“I don’t care. It’s not my business,” Blachowicz said. “I focus about me, about my camp, about my preparation, to not get injured. I focus about me. To be ready for everything what he prepares for me.
“I don’t care what he’s thinking about right now. That he’s got respect for me or not. If he thinks about ‘when he beats me, he’ll go to heavyweight.’ I don’t care. I just want to be the best shape ever in this fight and beat him. This is everything I’ve got inside my head.”
The way Blachowicz sees it, Adesanya can say whatever he wants so long as he shows up at UFC 259 ready to do battle.
Blachowicz doesn’t see a need to trade verbal barbs with Adesanya because all that really matters is what happens on March 6 and there’s no lacking confidence when it comes to his prediction for the fight.
“He’s a good fighter, a really good fighter. He’s a champion,” Blachowicz said about Adesanya. “Nobody defeat him. 20-0 also so he is good, he has to be good but it’s time for 20-1.
“I believe that I’m going to be the first one to beat him, and I believe I will do it.”