Las Vegas, NV — For Jan Blachowicz, an unexpected chance to fight for the UFC light heavyweight title this weekend is an “early Christmas gift.”
“I enjoy it, it is what it is. I take my chance. Everybody would use this situation,” Blachowicz (29-9) said during Wednesday’s UFC 282 media day.
With Jiri Prochazka injured and Glover Teixeira not willing to face Magomed Ankalaev on short notice, it’s former champ Blachowicz getting the opportunity to reclaim gold on Saturday. The Polish fighter and Dagestan’s Ankalaev had already been matched up in the UFC 282 co-headliner, though when Prochazka vacated his title due to injury, the UFC had planned to book Anakalaev with Teixeira, who had been set to run it back with Prochazka anyway.
That brief game of musical chairs worked out in Blachowicz’s favor, although he was none the wiser initially. As has been widely reported, he was in the air, travelling to Las Vegas when he got the news.
“I didn’t expect that I was the last to know what’s happened, because I was in the plane when everything happened. So when I landed, I checked my phone, my phone was crazy,
Blachowicz recalled. “A lot of messages. And I find this message from my manager, ‘you’ve got title shot.’ I cannot believe [it] the first time, so I read it four times. I showed it to be coach, he said ‘yeah, we’ve got a title shot.’ So we just were excited.”
Blachowicz believes he’d already done enough to earn a title shot, after defeating Aleksandar Rakic in May. But Prochazka instead opted to run it back with Teixeira.
“I think I deserve this fight after Rakic, but Jiri wanted to take a rematch with Glover, so okay, I had to wait a little bit longer. Do one more fight. But the universe worked with me very well. I wish Jiri the best recovery, but I will take my chance, and be the champion again.”
The difference between being a UFC champion, and not, is quite stark it seems. As Blachowicz explained to Cageside Press on Wednesday, it’s like going from a luxury car to a beater.
“You know, I try to explain it in a simple way. When you drive a poor car, and then you switch the poor car for, I don’t know, a Porsche or Mercedes. And again you lose this cool car, and you come back to poor car — you want to come back to this beautiful car,” said Blachowicz. “So this is how I feel right now. I was the champion, I lose the belt, but I know how it feels to be the best in the world.”
“I was in the place where Magomedov is right now. And I’m in a completely new place, and I’ve got my motivation doubled. I cannot wait to start fighting for this title again.”
Should he win it, he believes his native Poland as a whole will get a boost, after a tough loss at the World Cup. “Poland will celebrate again with me in a couple days.”
Jan Blachowicz faces Magomed Ankalaev in the main event of UFC 282 this Saturday, December 10, 2022 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.