It was only six weeks ago that Jan Blachowicz knew for sure that he would not be fighting Jon Jones. That’s when the UFC e-mailed him an offer to face Dominick Reyes at UFC 253, for the vacant light heavyweight title.
“I always knew that I was going to be next, that my next fight would be for the belt,” Blachowicz said during this week’s UFC 253 virtual media day. Who the fight would come against was uncertain til the end, MMA being what it is.
Now, Blachowicz (26-8), a former KSW champion, will look to stake his claim as the best light heavyweight in the world. It just won’t come against the man many see as the consensus best, Jones.
You’d better believe the Polish fighter has been asked about Jones plenty. As he rightfully sees it, the Jones situation is out of his control. “This is not my fault,” stated Blachowicz ahead of his title fight. “Jon Jones escaped from us. Not we, you know?”
In short, if you want to know why Jones isn’t fighting Saturday, “Ask him, not us. We’ll do with Dominick, our best. We’ll do what we can to get the best fight inside the octagon. I believe I can knock him out like Corey [Anderson], and I’m going to be the next champion. I don’t care what people say, that it wasn’t Jon Jones.”
Plenty have pointed the finger at Jones for exiting an increasingly competitive 205lb division just as things were really getting interesting. Others will agree that the best challenges for Jones rest at heavyweight, where he appears to be headed. Either way, Blachowicz sees the fight with Reyes as a justifiable one. “Dominick made a really good fight with Jon Jones, it was a really close fight.”
There’s an old idea that fighting is only so much about skill before luck comes into play. If that’s the case, the source of Jan Blachowicz’s luck is an interesting one: he touches a piece of rope for good luck. The same rope he found around the neck of a man who hung himself in the woods in his native Poland.
“When I find this guy, I had to call for police, because he was dead,” said Blachowicz, who earlier recounted the story on social media. “Police asked me, they say ‘you need to take a piece of the rope home.’ I asked him ‘what you talking about, why, for what?'”
The police officer said it would bring him luck. When Blachowicz looked the superstition up, sure enough, that’s what people believed. “People a long time ago believed that when you find a hanged person, you have to take the rope, and this will bring you luck.”
Blachowicz didn’t take the rope, instead leaving it where it was, but the light heavyweight does take advantage of its supposed powers. “It’s still on the tree where I find this guy. I always go there and touch it. It’s worked pretty good.”
We’ll know if it worked this time out soon enough.
Watch the full UFC 253 virtual media day interview with Jan Blachowicz above.