Light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz is prepared for the best Luke Rockhold possible ahead of UFC 239.
Los Angeles, CA — Among the big fights going down at UFC 239 on July 6 is the light heavyweight debut of Luke Rockhold, former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion. Like Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos before him, Rockhold is no doubt hoping to find new life in a razor-thin 205lb division. Well, expect Jan Blachowicz to have a thing or two to say about that.
Blachowicz (23–8), a career light heavyweight and former KSW champion, was on a four-fight win streak, with three post-fight bonuses, before he came up short against Thiago Santos back in February. Santos punched his ticket to a title fight with Jon Jones atop the UFC 239 card. It’s a slot that might otherwise have been Poland’s Blachowicz, had things gone the other way.
Still, a former champ in Rockhold isn’t a bad consolation prize. “I’m happy, I’m excited. I cannot wait [for] when I step into the octagon and make punches with Luke,” Blachowicz told Cageside Press Monday in Los Angeles, while promoting the upcoming scrap.
Rockhold, however, has been busy talking about anything but Blachowicz. He’s called out Jon Jones. He’s been feuding with Anthony Smith. Jan Blachowicz, however, is the man he has to fight. And the Polish fighter isn’t sure if Rockhold is overlooking him or not. “I don’t know, we will see. Maybe he will start talking about me.” If Rockhold is looking past him, however, Blachowicz feels it’s a mistake. “Maybe he don’t have respect for me, he don’t take me serious. But if he don’t do this, he’s wrong. Really wrong.”
For his own part, Blachowicz is taking Rockhold very seriously, despite the ex-champ’s extended layoff. Rockhold last fought in February of 2018, when he was knocked out by Yoel Romero at UFC 221. “I am prepared for the best version of Luke Rockhold, but we will see in the fight how he is,” Blachowicz told us.
From his own experience, Blachowicz is aware that time away doesn’t necessarily mean skills diminish. “When I was injured and had a one year break, I was better than before [the] injury,” he said. “Maybe he will be better, maybe he will be worse. I don’t know, we will see.”
From Rockhold’s existing skill set, Blachowicz sees the most dangerous part of his opponent’s game as “the southpaw style, only this.” However, he later admitted that “I think, the grind, maybe he will be strong in this game.”
Blachowicz himself, meanwhile, is staying focused while appreciating the distractions a big card in Las Vegas brings. “I stay focused, I’m serious, but you know, when some things happen, I like it, because I don’t think about the fight. I’m not bored in the locker room, because it’s a nice city. You can’t be [bored] over there.”
“I’m still focused about the fight. I enjoy that, I used to do this stuff.” If you’re familiar with his old home in KSW, that shouldn’t be surprising.
As for the UFC 239 main event, between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos, Blachowicz is not firmly on either side. “For me it’s always 50-50,” he said, “but I keep my fingers [crossed] for Thiago.” No doubt, given that could set up a lucrative rematch down the road.
Of course, Blacowicz would be interested in a fight with Jon Jones as well. And, he said, “I would like to take a rematch with everybody I lost to in the past.” First, however, is Rockhold. Blachowicz is giving the fight his full attention; time will tell if Rockhold is doing the same.
UFC 239 takes place July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.