Following a back-and-forth fight through two rounds, Aleksandar Rakic stepped backwards during an exchange in the third and his knee gave out on him, which caused the Austrian fighter to crumble to the mat in agonizing pain while clutching his leg. The bout was stopped immediately, with Blachowicz earning the TKO victory due to injury.
While it’s necessarily ideal, Blachowicz is still happy with his performance because he was putting a lot of damage on Rakic even before the knee injury occurred.
“Of course, I’m a fighter, I’m a warrior,” Blachowicz said at the post-fight press conference. “It’s better when you win by TKO, KO, submission, clean. But my body was tougher tonight, that’s it. End of story. I was ready for third, fourth, five rounds — he was not.
“I see that his chin was much bigger and he was slowing down and he was changing positions. So I knew that he was starting to feel the kicks. That was one of my game plans. I wanted to kick these legs because his position is very low and he has long legs and it’s hard when you’ve got low position to block it. I want to focus him on my hands and kicks, to make him slow down — he also has power in his legs, so I want to take it away. I think that was working very good.”
By the start of the third round, Rakic had significant swelling on his lead leg from all of the calf kicks Blachowicz was throwing.
Considering the weight Rakic was forced to put on his other leg to alleviate the damage done from the calf kicks, it’s possible the strategy played a part in the way his knee gave out, although Blachowicz isn’t going to take credit for it.
“This is a question for him,” Blachowicz said. “Maybe he just feel the fight, this is a question for him. I just wish him a very quick recovery back to the feet and back to the gym how fast he can.”
Of course, Blachowicz didn’t walk away from the fight unscathed after he got clipped during an early exchange that opened a nasty cut under his left eye.
The ex-light heavyweight champion revealed that he’ll have to undergo some sort of surgery to repair the damage done, although he won’t know the extent of the injuries until he has a full examination on Monday.
“It’s OK, but I’m going to have some small surgery Monday on this eye,” Blachowicz said. “The doctor said maybe it’s going to be small or maybe it’s going to be bigger, he doesn’t know yet. He’s going to check in the hospital.
“I have to check it [how it happened]. I don’t know. That was in the beginning of the first round one of the first punches, I don’t see anything in the first round in this eye. But I have to check it. My coach said it was a finger. Aleksandar said it was a punch. I don’t know. I will check and give you an answer.”
Regardless of how the win happened, Blachowicz has now cemented his position as the top-ranked contender in the 205-pound division with hopes that he’ll now earn the opportunity to face either Glover Teixeira or Jiri Prochazka after they meet in the UFC 275 main event.
Teixeira had already sent a message to Blachowicz ahead of his fight on Saturday night that he would gladly offer him a rematch assuming he gets past Prochazka on June 11.
Let’s go @JanBlachowicz Win tonight…and I’ll win Jun 11…then we run it back— glover teixeira (@gloverteixeira) May 15, 2022
Obviously, Blachowicz loved hearing that from the reigning UFC champion as he seeks to get back the title he lost, while also regaining his true passion for the sport with his win over Rakic.
“This is what I was looking for, this answer — this fight give me the answer that I want,” Blachowicz explained. “That I feel the same before I fought Glover or before I fought Israel [Adesanya] or Dominick Reyes. I’m just happy. Because I got inside the octagon to do a great fight but also to have fun and joy and I have it.
“I hope so that the UFC gives me another title shot. That I’m the next one. I was No. 1, Rakic was No. 3 — for me, it’s obvious that I’m the No. 1 contender now for the title shot.”
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