Las Vegas, Nevada — Enough people had written off light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz’s chances against middleweight champ Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 that he entered the night a clear underdog. Following a full five rounds, however, it was the Polish veteran with his hand raised — serving up the first loss of Adesanya’s career.
“What can I say, [I’m] just happy. Pure happiness,” he described the feeling following the fight, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “I defended my belt. Now that I’ve proved I’m a true champion, I think now I’m going to have respect from everybody. And the next fight, I’m not going to be an underdog anymore. But I don’t care, I could be.”
Blachowicz’s status as afterthought was reminiscent of Amanda Nunes, another winner at UFC 259, ahead of her fight with Ronda Rousey. Barely there. Overlooked, all but unnoticed at a press conference earlier in the week. But Blachowicz never once complained, and did his talking in the fight.
The bout itself surprised many: Adesanya didn’t look as fast as expected. Blachowicz, whose path to victory according to many was a knockout punch, instead won a five round decision. His wrestling, as expected, was a factor, but he admitted that “I should have started wrestling a little bit earlier.” On the other hand, Adesanya “kept distance really well,” said the champ, “so I could not catch him.”
The 38-year old had a bit of a limp post-fight. “He kicks really hard, I feel it in my leg right now,” Blachowicz admitted. “And I should have put a little bit more pressure on him and use more boxing skills on him. But anyway, I was a little bit better. It was a close fight, tough fight but I was a little bit better.”
Defending the UFC light heavyweight title for the first time in his life was “an amazing feeling,” Blachowicz added. And while it was a close fight, a few of his peers assured him after the fact that he had won. “Even Glover Teixeira came to the cage and said ‘you were better.'” Former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov also told Blachowicz that “you won three rounds.”
It is Texeira who is expected to get the next shot at gold, but it won’t come right away. “Minimum half year break,” said Blachowicz, who noted that he’s a new father, and hasn’t had a chance to spend a lot of time with his son.
As to what he takes away from going from a sub-.500 fighter early in his UFC career, to a defending champion in 2021, Blachowicz said it was “motivation. Believing in your dreams. And that’s it.” Giving credit to his coach, plus his whole team, friends, and family, Blachowicz said “it’s just perfect. Together we find a way to be the best. So thanks coach for everything.”
Watch the full UFC 259 post-fight press conference with Jan Blachowicz above.