The Film Room: Jan Blachowicz

By Kevin Wilson Nov 14, 2019
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Former KSW champion Jan Blachowicz on Saturday will draw his third assignment of 2019 when he squares off with Ronaldo Souza in the UFC Fight Night 164 main event in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Blachowicz has won five of his last six bouts, three of them by knockout, and finds himself on the verge of a title shot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight division. A victory over “Jacare” in the Brazilian’s 205-pound debut could inch him even closer to an opportunity to dethrone Jon Jones.

Blachowicz supplies the material for this edition of The Film Room.

Blachowicz is one of the more well-rounded fighters in the division, but he prefers to get the job done on the feet. His striking is a good mix of knowing when to stay at range and when to blitz forward with a combo, again adding to his versatile repertoire. He will often spend rounds patiently picking apart opponents with jabs and right hands from the outside, then do a complete 180 and spend rounds rushing forward with combos trying to trap the opponent against the cage. His blitzes can be sloppy and leave him wide open for counters, but being able to change the pace of the fight at a moment’s notice makes him unpredictable on the feet. In his leading attacks, watch for the lead-leg body kick. Sometimes he will set it up with a 1-2, and other times he will simply run forward and throw it naked. However, he needs to be incredibly careful with his kicks in this fight. “Jacare” will certainly be looking to take the fight to the ground, and he is particularly accomplished at catching kicks and turning them into takedowns.

When Blachowicz wants to play it safe, he has a nice jab that he uses on the lead and as a counter. He likes to double up on it to set up his right straight, but he is not opposed to throwing single jabs just to make the opponent uncomfortable. It is made all the more potent by the fact that he uses it on the counter. Instead of planting his feet and looking for a fight-ending counter shot, he will simply pop out a jab to stop opponents in their tracks. Souza likes to come forward with wild right hands, so the quick counter jab down the middle is the perfect deterrent.

Blachowicz can have success wherever the fight takes him, but the one major hole in his game is his awkward countering skills. Most of his counters are intercepting strikes like his jab, and he is extremely uncomfortable when forced to fight backward. With the slightest amount of pressure, Blachowicz will leave his chin high, cross his feet while moving backward and throw wild counterpunches that are easy to see coming. He has had some nice moments on the counter in his five years with the UFC, but overall, the game plan to beat him seems to revolve around pressure and forcing him to counter. Souza’s striking is quite simple, but the timing of his right hand and constant pressure has overwhelmed many opponents in the past.

Although he does not do so often, Blachowicz has displayed good striking against the cage. He routinely backed Igor Pokrajac to the cage and mixed up his combos to the head and body. Since he often rushes forward with long combos, it would be nice to see him work on his cage cutting and trap opponents along the fence instead of letting them circle off and reset the action. Souza’s footwork is average, and he generally looks for counters when trapped against the fence. It would be beneficial to see Blachowicz force “Jacare” to the cage and pick him apart in the pocket at times before going back to fighting at range. Since Blachowicz is the much bigger man, he might not risk striking in the pocket when he knows he can use his long strikes from the outside.

Blachowicz has flown under the radar for a couple of years now, but his potential “Knockout of the Year” performance against former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold put his name in the conversation for the next shot at Jones’ title. Blachowicz had some trouble with Rockhold’s pressure and ability to set up his punches with long kicks. However, Blachowicz is an opportunist, landed a perfect counter left hook off the clinch break and gave us one of the most violent knockouts of 2019.

The biggest question going into this fight: How will the grappling exchanges play out? “Jacare” is one of the most accomplished grapplers to ever step inside the Octagon. He has won eight gold medals at the Mundials and two more at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships. Blachowicz is a striker, but he will shoot for takedowns when opportunities arise. He is obviously not as skilled in the grappling arena as “Jacare,” but his massive size advantage may allow him to simply overpower the older Brazilian.

Early in his career, most of Blachowicz’s wins resulted in submissions, and he still has more submission victories than knockouts. Two of his last five wins were by submission, including one of the few standing bulldog chokes in history against Devin Clark. Blachowicz likely does not want to test his skills on the ground, but if the fight does hit the mat, do not be surprised to see him try to submit “Jacare.” Blachowicz has been fighting natural middleweights for years. Rockhold, Clark, Thiago Santos and Jared Cannonier were all middleweights for most of their careers, so he is used to being the bigger man. This sort of puts a damper on his current streak, but a win over “Jacare” is still impressive and should at least keep him in the title picture. Advertisement


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