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Jan Blachowicz determined to keep Alex Pereira guessing at UFC 291, ‘but maybe I will take him down’

UFC 282: Blachowicz v Ankalaev Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Jan Blachowicz has many ways he could beat Alex Pereira at UFC 291, but until they’re in the cage together, he plans on keeping the former middleweight champion guessing.

With Pereira preparing to compete at 205 pounds in MMA for the first time, Blachowicz said he asked for this matchup with the agreement that the UFC would give him a title shot with a victory. By that standard alone, Blachowicz may just travel the path of least resistance and use his wrestling to ensure he’s victorious over the Brazilian — but then again Blachowicz isn’t afraid to test himself against Pereira, no matter where the fight goes.

“I’m going to be ready for everything that he’s got for me,” Blachowicz told MMA Fighting. “I don’t forget about the wrestling and the ground game, because maybe I’m going to have to use it, but you never know.

“I would like to check my standup against his because he’s one of the best of the world. I’m curious how my standup will look against him. I believe I can knock him out.”

During his own run to the UFC light heavyweight title, Blachowicz developed a devastating striking style that he often touts as “legendary Polish power,” which led to knockouts of Luke Rockhold, Corey Anderson, and Dominick Reyes en route to becoming champion. Perhaps that’s why he’s not afraid to get into exchanges with Pereira on the feet.

“MMA is a completely different sport from boxing or kickboxing,” Blachowicz said, “because you need to be focused about takedowns, fighting close to the cage, dirty boxing. This is what you don’t have in boxing and kickboxing. The game is completely different.”

In theory, Blachowicz could be playing with fire by trading strikes with Pereira, who earned his reputation as one of the most vicious knockout artists in the world while competing in kickboxing as a two-division GLORY champion. His two kickboxing wins over Adesanya, which included a vicious one-punch knockout that flattened Adesanya, rocketed Pereira into UFC title contention before he faced a murderer’s row of middleweights.

With only nine MMA fights on his résumé and five in the UFC, Pereira is arguably still learning on the job ahead of his light heavyweight debut. That fact isn’t lost on Blachowicz, who acknowledges without hesitation that his experience is vastly superior to Pereira, which is why he has plenty of options for his game plan at UFC 291.

“He got the title shot, he was the champion, but maybe he hasn’t fought against a very good wrestler, someone who will take him down, control him on the ground,” Blachowicz said. “So maybe it’s time to do it. Maybe I will take him down and we will see what he can do on the ground. But if you want to see what I’m going to do inside the octagon, you will need to watch the fight, and I promise it’s going to be a very good fight to watch.”

“For me it was like a marathon, for him it was a sprint. He took his title shot because he beat Adesanya in kickboxing twice. I think that’s why the UFC wanted to make this fight very fast. They did it, he won in a great way, but I’ve got more experience than him — and after the fight, I’ll tell you how good he is in his whole game, not just in striking.”

Every fight is an opportunity to show superiority over an opponent, and for Blachowicz, that could mean grinding Pereira into the mat with his grappling — or maybe surprising Pereira with a punch that breaks his jaw, just like Blachowicz did to Luke Rockhold at UFC 239.

Whatever the case, Blachowicz is confident in the victory, and that’s all that matters to him.

“I want to prove to the world that my standup is better than his standup,” Blachowicz said. “That I am a better fighter than he is. I fight against a couple of guys at middleweight, so maybe I won’t send him back to his category but show him it’s much different between the lower division and our division.

“Of course, the victory is the most important thing, no matter how, no matter why, but when I see how the fight is [going to be] finished, [it’s with a] knockout or submission in the second round. I submit him or I knock him out.”

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