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Jan Blachowicz didn’t have the look of a contender during the beginning of his Ultimate Fighting Championship tenure.
After a successful stint in Polish promotion KSW, Blachowicz suffered defeat in four of his first six Octagon appearances. What followed was a slow climb toward the top of the light heavyweight division, as the 37-year-old Pole rebounded to win seven of his next eight bouts to set up a showdown with Dominick Reyes for the vacant 205-pound belt at UFC 253.
Blachowicz says his self belief never wavered, even during that difficult stretch.
“I never think about that I’m not going to be a champion,” Blachowicz said during a UFC 253 media day. “I always believed in myself, believed in my skills. I just needed to find out what was going wrong and I found a way and corrected it and now I have the opportunity to be the champion. One more step.”
Blachowicz and Reyes are in the position they are in because longtime light heavyweight king Jon Jones elected to vacate the belt earlier this year to pursue a move to heavyweight. When Blachowicz knocked out Corey Anderson in Jones’ adopted hometown of Albuquerque in February, “Bones” was in attendance to cheer on the Polish standout. That was before Jones relinquished the crown, and it appeared that a clash between the two was inevitable.
Blachowicz shares a similar sentiment with Reyes that Jones’ absence doesn’t make winning the title any less significant.
“I’m gonna be happy that I’m champion. This is not my fault,” Blachowicz said. “Jon Jones escaped from us. Ask him, not us. I don’t care what people say that it wasn’t Jon Jones. Dominick had a really good fight against Jon Jones, it was really close.”
Regardless of who the opponent would be, Blachowicz always knew that his finish of Anderson at UFC Fight Night 167 would set him up for big things.
“I’m not suprised because Jon Jones doesn’t know what to do. He go to heavyweight, he will not fight again, nobody knows what he will do,” Blachowicz said. “I knew that my next fight would be for the title. No Jones, next in line is Dominick and me, so I’m not surprised.”
Of course, if the opportunity to face Jones arises down the road, Blachowicz will take it.
“I always want to fight agianst Jon Jones. But I think he doesn’t want to fight against me. This is a problem,” he said.