Blachowicz Prizm GreenIn the Clinch: Blachowicz’s Time is Now, UFC Vegas 54The light heavyweight division has a former champion. His name is Jan Blachowicz.

Blachowicz (28-9-0), 39, is currently the No. 1 contender after losing the title to Glover Teixeira at UFC 267 last October. Saturday will mark his return to the octagon since that day when Teixeira, at 42, became the oldest fighter in UFC history to capture the gold.

Blachowicz has had some time to regroup. His road back to the title starts with fending off the surging phenom in the division in Aleksandar Rakic.

Rakic GreenRakic (14-2-0), 30, is ranked No. 3 and has won his last two bouts after a close split-decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir in December 2019. His length at 6’5” and striking skills are real problems to most everyone in the division. If you choose to stand with him, chances are it will be a long day at the office because Rakic tends to pick guys apart.

Rakic has but one submission victory. Most of his opponents haven’t been able to drag him into heavy waters on the mat to see what he’s got. Blachowicz, at 6’2” and a widebody, has the bulk to do to Rakic what he did to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya – rough him up on the ground.

Blachowicz did not fare well striking wise with Adesanya, and I’d lean on the same thing happening with Rakic. He needs to be prepared to make things uncomfortable and not let Rakic tee off on him.

Teixeira is defending against the No. 2 Jiri Prochazka at UFC 275 in June. This means that Blachowicz will probably have to win at least twice more to secure the title shot. Only Michael Chandler seems to have the luck these days to pull off quick title shots.

Rakic is hungry for a title shot of his own, but Blachowicz has been here before. He took down Adesanya. Can he take down “The Rocket?”

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Jan Blachowicz

Aleksandar Rakic

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