When he began his Ultimate Fighting Championship tenure with a 2-4 record, Jan Blachowicz was on the verge of losing his spot in the world’s largest mixed martial arts organization.
Even after he righted the ship in the years that followed, it’s been an uphill climb for the Polish standout to receive the proper recognition he deserves. After besting middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in the UFC 259 headliner to retain the 205-pound crown at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night, perhaps that can finally change.
“I defended my belt,” Blachowicz said at the post-fight press conference. “Now I prove that I’m a true champion and I think now I’m going to have respect from everybody. In the next fight, I will not be the underdog anymore. But I don’t care anyway.”
Blachowicz has won nine of his last 10 UFC appearances, compiling a resume that includes victories over the likes of Adesanya, Dominick Reyes, Corey Anderson, Ronaldo Souza, Luke Rockhold, Jimi Manuwa and Jared Cannonier, to name a few. In the vast majority of those fights during his successful run, the former KSW title holder has been the underdog. Over time, Blachowicz has become adept at blocking out the doubters and the naysayers.
“I stopped listening to what people say,” Blachowicz admitted. “For me, the most important thing is what my family says, what my coaches say, what my friends say. What people that I never see in my life and what they say? Who cares? Now I would listen to them, what they say after this fight.
“This is something important for me. Before the fight, I don’t care. After the fight… When I’m the underdog everybody says ‘he doesn’t have enough to win the fight.’ After I won, what do you say now? But anyway they are going to say it was luck or something like this… I don’t care.”
UFC 259 was expected to be a coronation for Adesanya, allowing “The Last Stylebender” to become the promotion’s seventh two-division champion and potentially setting up a lucrative grudge match with Jon Jones down the road. Instead, Blachowicz proved to be too patient, strong and technical for the Nigerian-born Kiwi.
While Blachowicz sealed his victory with takedowns and top control in the championship frames, he also outlanded his opponent by a 107-to-78 count in significant strikes. Even though he didn’t get to showcase his vaunted “Polish Power,” Blachowicz gradually asserted himself over the course of the 25-minute contest. By the time the scorecards were announced, it was clear who the winner would be.
“For sure it was a tough fight, it was a close fight, but Izzy kicked a little bit more than I did. I think my boxing was a little bit better than his, my wrestling was much better than his,” Blachowicz said. “I won the fight and that’s it, but it was a tough fight … I’m happy that I can be the first to beat him, one of the best in the world.
“I’m a true champion, I deserve what I got. It was a hard job for me tonight, but I do my best. We did almost everything — what we prepared for him in the gym we did in the fight. I’m happy. I won the fight and what we do works in the fight. I should have wrestled him a little bit more a little bit earlier, I should have put more pressure on him. I should have put more of my boxing skills on him, but he’s a great fighter, he wouldn’t let me go, but anyway, I did almost everything that we trained for.”
Blachowicz, who recently turned 38, might not be the superstar that Adesanya was marketed to be, but he continues to defy the odds and win consistently. After UFC 259, the world has no choice but to take notice.
“I just want to represent my country. Represent maybe not only my country, but just true sport and the legendary Polish power,” he said. “I’m proud that I can show the whole world the legendary Polish power.”