After Jan Blachowicz knocked out Luke Rockhold at UFC 239, many expected the Polish fighter to get the next title shot.
Yet that opportunity has continued to elude Blachowicz. Instead of fighting for the title next, he’ll welcome former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza to the light heavyweight division in the main event of UFC Sao Paulo.
Once Blachowicz realized he wouldn’t get the next title shot, he became eager for a fight like this.
“After the fight [with Rockhold], I thought I was getting the title shot. But, a week or so after I knew the fight was not going to happen so I waited for something else,” Jan Blachowicz said to BJPENN.com. “They gave me this Jacare fight as the main event. I’m excited, he is a great fighter and a legend in the sport. It is a great fight for me.”
Although Souza is a big name, he is the second unranked opponent Blachowicz will face in a row. Souza had success at middleweight, but this is his first fight at 205 pounds in the UFC. Even though Blachowicz wanted a ranked opponent, he says this is the next best thing.
“He is a big name. We tried to fight someone with a ranking at 205, but nobody was available at this moment,” he explained. “People have injuries, people have just fought or fighting soon so they gave me the Jacare fight.”
Blachowicz has a simple gameplan for this fight. He believes he must keep the fight standing and avoid Jacare’s strong jiu-jitsu game. He expects the size will be a difference-maker in keeping this fight on the feet, as well.
“It is not a secret that I will try to keep it standing,” he said. “But, I also have good jiu-jitsu, so if the fight goes to the ground, I will be ready for his jiu-jitsu. He has to be ready for my jiu-jitsu. I have the skills to submit someone. But, you know, this is MMA, not jiu-jitsu, so I’m ready for everything but would like to be standing the entire time.
“Everyday I do something to defend wrestling,” Blachowicz added. “I also may take him down, I train everything but we have been focusing on the ground. I know how to submit people and maybe you see Jacare tap out.”
Ultimately, Blachowicz knows the stakes are high for this fight. A loss sends him down the light heavyweight rankings, while a win puts him into the title conversation. With no clear contender between Dominick Reyes and Corey Anderson, the Polish fighter knows he must have a statement fight if he wants to leapfrog them.
“Yeah, I think I have to knock him out in the first or second round to prove I deserve the title shot,” he said.
Confidence is high for Jan Blachowicz ahead of his main event scrap against Jacare Souza.
“I will try and knock him out. But, we will see. I’m going to be ready for him, for me, 205, is nothing new. It is my division, for him, it is something new and we will see how he feels in the division,” he concluded.
Who do you think will win the fight between Jan Blachowicz and Jacare Souza?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/11/2019.