Jan Blachowicz was looking to chop down Aleksandar Rakic with leg kicks, but it was ultimately a devastating knee injury that gave the former light heavyweight champion the win in UFC Vegas 54’s main event.
From the start of the fight, Blachowicz chipped away at Rakic with a series of nasty kicks to the calf, but as he pressed forward in the third round, the Austrian fighter took a step back and his knee just buckled. Rakic fell to the ground in obvious pain as the referee hastened in to stop the fight at 1:11 into the third round.
While it probably wasn’t the way he wanted to win, Blachowicz can still celebrate his victory as he vanquishes another top contender, with hopes that he’ll soon get the chance to compete for UFC gold again.
“This is what I expect,” Blachowicz said afterward. “The first round, something happened with my eye. But I feel the first round was really good. He has an injury, it is what it is. S*** happens sometimes. I cannot wait to step inside again. I hope the UFC gives me the next title shot.”
With a chance to make a statement in the light heavyweight division, both fighters came out firing early, with Rakic opening a cut under Blachowicz’s eye during the first exchange with a right hand straight down the middle. Undeterred, Blachowicz came right back at him with a left to the body followed by a huge right over the top that snapped Rakic’s head back.
That’s when Blachowicz also started targeting the lead leg with a series of devastating calf kicks, which immediate did damage as Rakic switched stances to stave off the constant attacks. The Polish powerhouse used the kicks to then set up his hands as he began making Rakic pay with his boxing combinations.
With significant swelling on his leg, Rakic looked for a takedown off a head kick attempt to slow Blachowicz down, although he had to fight off a triangle choke attempt from the bottom. Once he escaped, however, Rakic started peppering away with punches from the top with Blachowicz stuck underneath him.
Rakic maintained control, dropping down occasional elbows and making Blachowicz defend off his back until the second round ended.
With a reset on the feet to start the third, Blachowicz once again targeted the leg and threw with tremendous force behind every kick. There was significant swelling and bruising on the front of Rakic’s calf, showing how much damage Blachowicz inflicted throughout the fight.
As Blachowicz stepped into another combination with his hands, Rakic backed up — and that’s when his knee seemed to just give out on him.
Replays showed what appeared to be his knee popping as Rakic landed on his back foot, which led to him falling to the ground in agonizing pain.
Following the fight, Blachowicz shared some words of encouragement with Rakic and promised that he would become a champion one day.
As for the result in the fight, Blachowicz gets the win as he looks to jump right back into title contention after falling to Glover Teixeira to lose the belt this past October.
With Teixeira already calling for a rematch in the future, Blachowicz was more than happy to accept, as he’ll now root for the Brazilian to get a win of his own over Jiri Prochazka in the UFC 275 main event in June.
Let’s go @JanBlachowicz Win tonight…and I’ll win Jun 11…then we run it back
— glover teixeira (@gloverteixeira) May 15, 2022
“Glover, I keep fingers [crossed] for you,” Blachowicz said. “I hope so we are going to fight again.”