clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC Fight Night 167’s Jan Blachowicz

Veteran striker, Jan Blachowicz, will rematch grinding wrestler, Corey Anderson, this Saturday (Feb. 15, 2020) at UFC Fight Night 167 inside Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

These two first battled in 2015, and it’s safe to say much has changed. At the time, Blachowicz was struggling mightily to put together consistent wins, largely because of his problems with conditioning and wrestling. Anderson’s wrestling background and endless gas tank proved those faults and granted “Overtime” a relatively easy win, but again, Blachowicz is a new man.

Since improving his cardio, Blachowicz has won six of seven bouts, climbing into the Top 5 and looking better than ever. More than anything else, this rematch is an opportunity to definitively prove those issues are behind him, and that the Pole is ready to contend.

Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:

Striking

Blachowicz is very much an experienced kickboxer, a veteran who looks to slowly pick apart his foes with craft. He keeps his own defense tight, applies a strong jab, and will search for opportunities to really let his powerful kicks rip.

In general, Blachowicz prefers to operate as a counter puncher. He often fights from his back foot, drawing opponents into his hardest shots. While working from the outside, Blachowicz keeps a very active jab. Taking small steps back (giving ground), Blachowicz will look to plant and stick out a jab as his opponent steps forward. This was incredibly effective against Jimi Manuwa in their rematch, particularly because Manuwa tends to stand a bit square (GIF). Once the jab was established, Blachowicz did a nice job of setting up further left hooks and the right hand.

Blachowicz will break stance to fire multi-punch combinations, often with lunging uppercuts (GIF). He repeatedly rocked Manuwa with these offensive bursts, but this is also the habit that saw him blasted by a pair of Thiago Santos’ check hooks.

In addition, Blachowicz looks to pick at his opponent with kicks as they advance. Speed is the priority here, as Blachowicz will kick from his stance rather than load up the shot with power. Often, Blachowicz is stepping back before planting with a sudden switch kick to the belly, but he’ll look for quick digs into the lead leg as well.

The goal of Blachowicz’s approach is to land strikes from the very edge of his range, making it easier to evade/block whatever his opponent throws back and counter. It’s rather common for Blachowicz to trust his own distance and fire a check hook as his opponent throws or immediately after. In this example opposite Manuwa, Blachowicz caught Manuwa over-extending on a right hand and followed up with a left hook, cross, and body kick (GIF).

A major weapon of Blachowicz is the uppercut, which he’ll throw on the counter or as a lead. Generally, it’s his left uppercut, which can be thrown from the Orthodox stance or with a step into Southpaw that adds extra power. It’s a great weapon against crouching wrestlers like Patrick Cummins (GIF), and Blachowicz always follows up with more heavy punches after landing.

Against Manuwa, Blachowicz repeatedly found great success with his counter uppercut. Manuwa constantly hunts for the left hook and really loads up on the punch, which means he squares up his weight before throwing. Blachowicz countered by exploding into the uppercut as Manuwa shifted his weight, catching him square and low to the ground (GIF).

The final major weapon of Blachowicz’s gain is the power round kick. When moving forward, Blachowicz is more likely to commit his full weight behind the kick and really try to make it hurt (GIF). This shuffle into the kick really allows Blachowicz to load up and deliver a hugely powerful blow. Alternatively, Blachowicz will step back from the Orthodox into Southpaw, immediately firing the left kick when his foe steps forward.

In Blachowicz’s most recent finish, the Polish striker knocked Luke Rockhold senseless twice in one fight. The finish came with a beautiful left hook on the break of the clinch — a proven weakness in Rockhold’s game. Prior to that left hook, Blachowicz repeatedly brought Rockhold’s attention low with calf kicks and body jabs, which proved remarkably effective in lowering his hands even further from his chin.

Wrestling

On the European mixed martial arts (MMA) scene, there are a great deal of fighters who rely on jiu-jitsu from their backs to counter takedowns rather than defensive wrestling. That mentality hurt Blachowicz earlier in his UFC career, but he’s since moved away from the mold.

Offensively, Blachowicz is certainly willing to wrestle. Blachowicz is a fighter who likes to jab from his back foot, and the timing for the double leg is often similar. As his opponent takes that step to close distance that Blachowicz has given up, he’ll plant and drive forward into a double leg instead of a jab (GIF). In a show of smarts against Manuwa, Blachowicz repeatedly used this double leg attempt to drive Manuwa back, turn a corner, and get his back off the fence.

Defensively, Blachowicz is decently difficult to takedown. He does a nice job of making clean shots difficult and fighting for underhooks along the fence. Against Rockhold, patient digging for underhooks and some hard elbows from the frame position proved more than enough to deny his foe’s shot. In general, the less said about Blachowicz’s horrifically boring bout with “Jacare” Souza, the better. However, he found similar success in using the cage to stuff Souza’s takedown attempts, though he did still spend too much time trapped on the fence.

The real problem comes when Blachowicz is successfully taken down. He’s still too willing to close full guard and roll for armbars, which is unlikely to work against high-level fighters consistently. Instead, it guarantees Blachowicz will spend more time on his back.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

A black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Blachowicz has finished nine of his opponents via submission. Aside from the aforementioned armbar attempt that rarely works in the UFC — but to his credit, is done nicely — Blachowicz has scored pair of recent strangulation finishes.

The first, a bulldog choke over Devin Clark, was rather bizarre. Clark attempted to throw an overhand to disguise his double leg attempt, but he was way off-balance and his aim was off. As a result, he missed Blachowicz completely with the punch and ended up on a bad single leg shot. Ever the opportunist, Blachowicz crept his arm under the neck and locked up a rear naked choke grip. Though he was technically on the side of Clark rather than behind him, there was no escape once that grip was locked (GIF).

In Blachowicz’s most recent submission win, he expertly controlled Nikita Krylov before choking him out with a modified arm triangle. It was an interesting finish, one worthy of this week’s technique highlight (GIF).

Conclusion

There is little flashy about Blachowicz’s overall game, but he’s proving that consistency and craft can carry a fighter a rather long way. Prior to last weekend’s main event, Blachowicz was potentially fighting for a title shot. However, given Reyes’ excellent performance opposite Jones, the pressure is really on Blachowicz to do something incredible if he’s to have any chance at receiving the next title shot.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 1667 fight card this weekend RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 167: “Anderson vs. Blachowicz 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania