Former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz is back on track and hoping to be next in line – though it wasn’t how he likely wanted it to happen.
Blachowicz (29-9 MMA, 12-6 UFC) got a TKO win over Aleksandar Rakic (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in the UFC on ESPN 36 main event Saturday. But it came only after Rakic backed up in the third round and his right knee buckled. After he fell to the canvas with the injury, the fight was waved off and Blachowicz had the TKO win at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
After the win, Blachowicz said he wanted another title shot against champion Glover Teixeira, who is scheduled to defend the belt against Jiri Prochazka at UFC 275 next month.
Blachowicz worked kicked to the leg early, but a Rakic right hand cut him under his left eye. The cut seemed to bother Blachowicz for most of the round. Rakic’s leg kicks were a regular weapon, as was his tendency to wait for Blachowicz to go first before countering. Blachowicz’s best weapon seemed to be lefts to the body with rights over the top as a combination, but Rakic continued to push forward and throw hard. Rakic slowed down in the final minute of the round in what was a close frame.
Thirty seconds into the second, Rakic finds a way to dump Blachowicz to the canvas. Blachowicz tries for a triangle choke, but Rakic works out of it and goes to work on top in Blachowicz’s guard. Rakic threw short punches and elbows when he could, and they started to add up. Although there wasn’t much action, Rakic controlled Blachowicz with relative ease on the canvas. Blachowicz got back to his feet with a few seconds left for the first time since early in the round, but without enough time to make a difference.
Blachowicz needed a turnaround in the third after being controlled in the second. He threw a leg kick early that backed Rakic up. And after a couple left jabs, Rakic backed up again and without warning, his right knee buckled. Rakic grabs the leg immediately and fell to the canvas. Blachowicz started to move in, but he saw Rakic obviously was hurt, and referee Mark Smith moved in to shut things down. The end came at the 1:11 mark of the third round.
UFC on ESPN 36 results:
Jan Blachowicz def. Aleksandar Rakic via TKO (injury) – Round 3, 1:11
Ryan Spann def. Ion Cutelaba via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 2:22
Davey Grant def. Louis Smolka via knockout (punches) – Round 3, 0:49
Katlyn Chookagian def. Amanda Ribas via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Manuel Torres def. Frank Camacho via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:27
Allan Nascimento def. Jake Hadley via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Viviane Araujo def. Andrea Lee via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Michael Johnson def. Alan Patrick via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 3:22
Virna Jandiroba def. Angela Hill via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tatsuro Taira def. Carlos Candelario via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Andre Petroski def. Nick Maximov via technical submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 1:16