Should Israel Adesanya look to move up in weight class again, UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz had two words of advice for him: takedown defence.
Blachowicz thwarted the UFC middleweight champion’s bid to become a dual-weight champion in March, using his size advantage to take the fight to the ground in the later rounds and ultimately earn a unanimous decision win – handing the Kiwi champion the sole loss of his MMA career.
Adesanya has since noted he would one day look to move up to the 205lbs division again and, speaking to the Herald ahead of his title defence at UFC 267 on Fight Island this weekend, Blachowicz shared some tips for his Kiwi counterpart.
“Takedown defence. Takedown defence, and he needed to do more on the ground. His stand-up is unbelievable, but when I took him down and controlled him, he could not move,” Blachowicz recalled.
“At 205, you can train in the gym with the heavy guys, but training and fighting is a completely different thing. I said he was going to feel different timing, different power – everything would be new for him. He can agree or not with that, but it is true. This is something he needs to work on.
“His stand-up skill is high level but his takedown defence, maybe it’s good for his division, but in 205 he needs to be a little bit better and do a little more on the ground; that’s my advice.”
The bout was a big moment for both men. While Adesanya was trying to make history by collecting another belt, Blachowicz had a point to prove after winning the vacant title rather than dethroning long-time champion Jon Jones – despite winning the vacant belt in spectacular fashion against American Dominick Reyes.
“I think I’ve got respect right now,” Blachowicz said. “People respect me and tell me that I am the true champion, and I proved that to them, not only myself, when I beat Adesanya – that I deserve the belt, I am the true champion, and that’s it.
“If I look back to that fight, I could do a little bit more. I could put more pressure on him, start taking him down a little bit earlier, but the most important thing is that I won the fight. Now we can talk about how I could do this better, but it’s too late.”
On Sunday, 38-year-old Blachowicz returns to the octagon looking for his second successful title defence, taking on 41-year-old Brazilian Glover Teixeira in the main event at UFC 267.
While headlining one of the biggest cards of the year, Blachowicz and Teixeira have gone quietly about their work in the build-up to camp.
Blachowicz said while fight promotion is becoming an increasingly popular and important part of the sport, he prefers this sort of build-up where the fighters go about their business respectfully.
“I think we have the same mentality, so there’s no bad blood between us. But in the fight, I hope so, I believe we’re going to see a lot of blood – not mine, but Glover’s,” Blachowicz laughed.
“But after the fight we’ll be friends, drink beer, talk to each other – I prefer it this way.”
Earlier on the card, Kiwi lightweight Dan Hooker looks to make the next move in his hunt for a title shot, fighting No 5-ranked contender Islam Makhachev.
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