Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Following a first-round knockout against Corey Anderson in February, Jan Blachowicz was confident his next fight would be against Jon Jones.
Considering Blachowicz flattened Anderson in the main event and then took aim at Jones, who was sitting front row in the audience, it appeared to be a logical plan of action. Jones later acknowledged Blachowicz as an opponent he’d like to face.
Months passed, and the fight never came to fruition.
Then Jones engaged in a very public war of words with the UFC over his financial compensation, which culminated in the longest-reigning light heavyweight champion in promotion history vacating his title with plans to move up to a bigger division. That same day, Blachowicz had an upcoming fight against Dominick Reyes finalized, except now they were competing to crown a new 205-pound champion in the UFC.
Initially, Blachowicz was upset that the opportunity to beat Jones for the title had been taken away from him. But those emotions subsided rather quickly.
“Maybe a little bit [upset], but I don’t care,” Blachowicz told MMA Fighting. “Right now, I’m only thinking about Dominick Reyes. I don’t care about Jon Jones anymore. I will think about him in the future. Now in my head is only Dominick, and I’ll focus on him.”
As much as he wanted to be the first fighter in history to hand Jones a legitimate loss, Blachowicz was mostly happy that the division would have the chance to move forward rather than stagnating while the champion was embroiled in a contract battle with the UFC.
“I was happy because he unblocked our [division],” Blachowicz said about Jones. “I knew that I was going to be fighting against Dominick Reyes then, and I knew it was going to be a title shot. A regular title, so it was great news.”
Blachowicz also quickly points out that Jones testing himself at heavyweight doesn’t mean he’ll never compete at 205 pounds again.
Jones is just now about to test those waters for the first time, and nothing is stopping him from returning to his old stomping grounds at some point in the future. In fact, Blachowicz is confident he’ll still get the chance to face Jones — it’s just not going to be his next fight any longer.
“I know in the future I will meet Jon Jones, so it’s just going to be a little bit later,” Blachowicz said. “The title is the most important thing. I’ve got the title shot against a really good fighter in Dominick Reyes. He made a really good fight against Jon Jones.
“I believe in the future, I’ll meet Jon Jones anyways but first, I have to beat Dominick.”
If he can’t get Jones right now, Reyes will certainly serve as the next best thing.
Reyes is coming off a hard-fought five round decision with Jones in February at UFC 247. Many people believe he deserved to get the nod that night.
Don’t count Blachowicz among them, but he definitely gives Reyes credit for pushing Jones to the limit in a five-round battle. He expects nothing less than the best from his opponent when they clash at UFC 253.
“It was a great performance,” Blachowicz said about Reyes. “Great fight. Really close fight. I still think that he lost the fight, but it was just a little bit of difference between him and Jon Jones. That’s it.
“I know he’s really good, southpaw fighter. A really good boxer, kickboxer. Really good takedown defense. It’s going to be a tough fight for me. But I’m going to be ready for everything that he’s prepared for me.”
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