What Lies Ahead For Jan Blachowicz?
By Jack Maher
New UFC light-heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz snatched up the vacant title with a brutal finish of Dominick Reyes, and with his newfound glory also comes the status as the most wanted man at 205lbs.
With a new champion comes a chance for new matchups and rivalry’s to flourish at the top of the division, but it is a rematch with a former foe that first springs to mind when you think of potential challengers for the new lightheavyweight king.
The opponent in question is Thiago Santos, who knocked out Blachowicz when they fought in the main event of UFC Prague in 2019. Santos would go on to compete for the title himself later that year and came close to winning the gold, but ultimately came away with a loss and devastating knee injuries that have kept him out of the cage since.
Santos is scheduled to return in November against division veteran Glover Teixeira, and if ‘Marreta’ beats his fellow Brazilian in the exciting fashion that he has become associated with, then a rematch with Blachowichz will likely follow.
But what if Teixeira wins?
Teixeira has quietly put together an impressive winning streak, walking away with his hand raised in his last four outings, most recently stopping former title challenger Anthony Smith in a one-sided performance.
If Teixeira beats the #2 ranked Santos, then the 40 year old may be in line for his first title shot since 2014.
Of course there are other options for Blachowicz to defend his crown his against; Jiri Prochazka looked both exciting and dangerous in his lone UFC outing, earning a performance bonus for his knockout of Volkan Oezdemir. Meanwhile Aleksandar Rakić has moved in to the top five, but perhaps lacks that one standout win at this stage.
Then there’s the elephant in the room, or in this case the elephant who has left the room; Jon Jones.
Jones ruled over the light-heavyweight division with an iron first, beating waves of top contenders to establish himself as the best to ever do it at 205lbs. The 33 year-old vacated the light-heavyweight championship in order to pursue heavyweight glory, but could a return to the division he made his own come sooner rather than later?
‘Bones’ is as unpredictable as he is talented, and if the big fights at heavyweight don’t materialise, and Blachowicz continues to make the right noise, then perhaps Jones will return to challenge for his former throne.