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Dominick Reyes pushed reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones to the brink of defeat in the UFC 247 main event on Feb. 8. The Californian lost a contentious unanimous decision to Jones, though many observers believed he had done enough to get his hand raised. The close nature of the bout led to calls for an immediate rematch.
One week later, the outcome in the UFC Fight Night 167 headliner appears to have put plans for a Jones-Reyes sequel on hold, at least temporarily. Jan Blachowicz sent Corey Anderson crashing to the canvas with a laser-guided right hook and followed it with a crushing hammerfist on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Anderson met his end 3:08 into Round 1. Blachowicz thinks he has done enough to leapfrog the aforementioned Reyes as Jones’ next suitor.
“I hope so,” Blachowicz said during the post-fight media scrum. “I believe I’m next contender for the title shot, and I don’t want a different fight, only the title shot.”
The victory was Blachowicz’s third in a row and seventh in eight appearances. After wins over Anderson, Ronaldo Souza and Luke Rockhold, the 36-year-old former KSW champion seems primed for a crack at UFC gold.
“I do this my whole life,” Blachowicz said. “I wait for this so long, and now I am ready. I proved that I deserve for the title shot. I will do this. I will take the belt to Poland.”
Jones set a record for most wins in UFC title fights (14) with his decision over Reyes. He sports a 26-1 record, with his lone loss the result of a disqualification against Matt Hamill in December 2009. Blachowicz believes he can solve the riddle Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, Mauricio Rua and a host of others could not.
“We already have something for Jones,” he said, “but it is a secret and we will show it in the fight.”
Jones, who trains out of Jackson-Wink MMA in New Mexico, was seated in the front row and received an up-close look at Blachowicz’s handiwork. While he complimented the Polish powerhouse on his efforts, he directed criticism at Anderson, a man with whom he had exchanged verbal barbs prior to the fight.
“I think Jan did a hell of a job,” Jones said. “His boxing looked great. Corey Anderson seemed slow. It just seemed like something wasn’t clicking in there. He seemed slower, more hesitant on his takedowns. I think he was more worried about fighting me than he was about Jan Blachowicz. He learned a valuable lesson of what happens when you look past an opponent. I think Corey Anderson tasted humble pie tonight.”
While Jones talked about a rematch with Reyes in the future, he seems to favor a showdown with Blachowicz next.
“Yeah, absolutely [Blachowicz is next],” Jones said. “Everyone knows the winner of that fight [was] in title contention. To finish that fight the way he did, [by] first-round knockout, I don’t see how the guy can be denied.”
While Jones did not predict how a potential match between the two might play out, Blachowicz did not hold back: “I will [knock out Jones], I promise you.”