At least that was the consensus before Dominick Reyes put in the performance of his life against champion Jon Jones in the main event of UFC 247 last week.
Reyes did not walk out of the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas as the UFC’s new 205 lbs titleholder, but many feel that he did enough to defeat Jones and was done a disservice by the judges in attendance.
The post-fight support for Reyes could well lead to a rematch with Jones for the belt, but Poland’s Blachowicz believes avenging a 2015 loss to Anderson on Saturday will make him the next challenger for ‘Bones’, while making Reyes nothing more than an afterthought.
“After this fight I’m going to be the next contender for the title,” Blachowicz told The Independent. “It was a really good fight [between Jones and Reyes], a really close fight, but I think that Jones won. That’s my opinion, and three of my coaches said the same.”
Thankfully for Blachowicz, the judges in Houston shared his opinion. While Reyes may yet get that rematch against Jones, a victory for the challenger at UFC 247 would have undoubtedly guaranteed ‘Bones’ an instant shot at redemption, further complicating matters for Blachowicz.
In any case, these hypotheticals will be rendered redundant if Blachowicz cannot beat American Anderson on Saturday, something he failed to do in 2015.
That night in Las Vegas at UFC 191, the Pole was outgrappled over three rounds and lost via unanimous decision.
“It was a long time ago,” Blachowicz said. “He beat me badly, but I know I was in some of the worst shape of my life ever. That’s why I wanted to take this rematch and show him that he was just lucky that day.
“This time is going to be completely a different fight for him – this time I’ll prove that I’m the better fighter and teach him respect, because I don’t think he has any respect towards me."
Blachowicz has since earned his black belt in jiu-jitsu, but is not afraid to stand and swing, as he demonstrated in a recent fight with former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.
Blachowicz dropped Rockhold with a head kick on the buzzer at the end of the first round, before knocking the former champ out cold with a left hook in the second frame, not exactly helping Rockhold on his venture as a Ralph Lauren model.
In his last outing, Blachowicz edged a split decision over perennial contender ‘Jacare’ Souza, another former middleweight looking to establish themselves at 205 lbs at Blachowicz’s expense.
So the Pole will be aiming to capitalise on his momentum on Saturday, potentially setting up the biggest fight of his life against Jones later this year.
With narrow decision wins in his last two fights, many believe Jones is not the insurmountable obstacle he once was, but for Blachowicz, victory over the champion would still be as impressive a feat as once could muster in the sport.
“We just started catching up to the greatest fight ever, you know?
“He’s as good as ever, but he’s stuck on his level, and this is the reason why each fight is going to get worse for him.”
Watch UFC Fight Night: Anderson vs. Blachowicz this Saturday live on UFC Fight Pass from 10:00pm and continuing on BT SPORT 2 from 11:00pm.