World MMA Light Heavyweight Scouting Report: #5 - Jan Blachowicz

One of the rising regions in the sport of mixed martial arts is the Eastern Bloc of countries of Germany and Poland. Poland, in particular, has continued to progress in not only producing talented fighters, but creating an outlet for those local talents to display their skills in front of large crowds. While the sanctioning of bouts and the overall organization of the country's mixed martial arts scene is a bit of a mess, there are still plenty of events for fans living in the region to attend.

At #5 on our 2011 World MMA Light Heavyweight Scouting Report, Jan Blachowicz (12-2) makes a strong case that Poland is a country to keep an eye on in the future. His well-rounded skills and continued success against progressively better competition should have him on a shortlist of potential acquisitions for any major promotion.

Offensive Skills: Blachowicz is what I would describe as a much better version of Marcus Vanttinen. In fact, I'd consider him to be well above his skill level and something that Vanttinen himself should strive to become. Blachowicz does two things very well in his offensive abilities. He uses his reach to his advantage, and he's well-versed in knowing how to pass guard and pepper opponents with damage from more dominant positions.

His straight punching from distance is a huge plus for him in the context of keeping opponents at bay, something a guy like Vanttinen has yet to grasp. Blachowicz also uses his kicking game and knees in the clinch to his advantage, but those distance fighting skills are his means to damaging opponents on the feet while staying away from any dangerous counters.

On the ground, he has an above average takedown game and good transitions to side control. He likes to move to north-south at times, but most of his damage either stems from side control or a transition to the submission once his opponent scrambles. Add the fact that he's a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and he is considered one of the more well-rounded athletes in the weight class.

Defensive Skills: Defensively, Blachowicz is phenomenal at reversing takedowns and dominant positions he's put in. His most successful ability is to latch onto his opponent's arm and threaten with a kimura while in full guard or even half guard. His strength allows him to crank the submission tight enough to force his opponent to either roll out of it or rise from guard enough for Blachowicz to reverse the position using his own power. He uses the technique quite often, and it's surprising to see it consistently work when it's obvious that he will use it in his defense. It's a testament to Blachowicz's grip strength and technical know-how that he continues to succeed in using it.

On the feet, his ability to maintain distance and land from the ends of his fists allows him to stay away from counters. It also causes his opponents to shoot from a farther distance than you would normally see against shorter fighters, giving him an advantage in seeing the takedown and stuffing it. But Blachowicz is very good at seeing the incoming shots, locking up that kimura hold as he goes to the ground, and flipping his opponent almost immediately. This allows him to gain dominant position despite being the defensive fighter during the transition.

Progression: Many of his abilities have been fine tuned from fight to fight, but the biggest improvement is in his ability to mold every area of his game to work together seamlessly. The only nit picking I can see is in his strength of competition, but even that's a bit hard to scrutinize. He's fought some solid competitors in the past, but it would be nice to see KSW bring in some international stars to test where Blachowicz is in his development against proven veterans of the UFC. Unfortunately, it's hard to find those types of challenges, but it could go a long way into proving he belongs with the promotion.

Lightweight Welterweight Middleweight
#1 - Thiago Michel
#2 - Ricardo Tirloni
#3 - Magno Almeida
#4 - Ui Cheol Nam
#5 - Henrique Mello
#6 - Reza Madadi
#7 - Alexander Sarnavskiy
#8 - Ole Laursen
#9 - Guillaume DeLorenzi
#10 - Al Iaquinta
#1 - Yuri Villefort
#2 - Alex Garcia
#3 - Erick Silva
#4 - Douglas Lima
#5 - Luis "Sapo" Santos
#6 - Jesse Juarez
#7 - Gunnar Nelson
#8 - Quinn Mulhern
#9 - Alberto Mina
#10 - Joe Ray
#1 - Papy Abedi
#2 - Chris Weidman
#3 - Vitor Vianna
#4 - Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
#5 - Bruno Santos
#6 - Costantinos Philippou
#7 - Jordan Smith
#8 - Uriah Hall
#9 - Victor O'Donnell
#10 - Assan Njie

Light Heavyweight
#5 - Jan Blachowicz
#6 - Yoel Romero
#7 - Ryan Jimmo
#8 - Nik Fekete
#9 - Marcus Vanttinen
#10 - Ronny Markes

Environment: He is currently training at Nastula Club in Warsaw, Poland, a camp founded by 1996 Olympic gold medalist and PRIDE FC veteran of the same name, Pawel Nastula. It isn't one of the most well-known gyms in Europe, but it is one of the best in Poland. It provides Blachowicz with a consistent base of knowledge to continue honing his Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai games along with a means to obtaining fights around the region.

As Sherdog.com pointed out in their prospect watch piece in September, Blachowicz did try to make a move stateside. With fellow Polish fighter Tomasz Drwal helping him make the transition, Blachowicz moved out to San Diego, but he was unable to find any fights. He took a fight down in Mexico when things became rather desperate money-wise, but he tore knee ligaments during his training camp. Blachowicz moved back home after the experience.

Potential: The 27-year-old is on the cusp of signing with a major promotion, whether it be the UFC, Strikeforce, or Bellator. Bellator seems like an unlikely suitor, but they have snuck into the region and grabbed some notable talent within the last couple of years. The UFC would be the better place for him however, unless he's looking to make a large payday by winning the Bellator tournament and gaining exposure with American fans through their television deal.

In terms of his skills, he has everything to be competitive at the top of the food chain. It wouldn't surprise me if Blachowicz eventually becomes an upper echelon talent in a major organization or, at the very least, a solid mid-tier fighter who can defeat upper-level competition from time to time. Either way, he has staying power rather than a one-and-done future.

Video:

Jan Błachowicz vs Daniel Tabera

Jan Blachowicz Highlight

Jan Blachowicz vs Julio Brutus -KSW 13

Maro Perak vs. Jan Blachowicz

Jan Blachowicz vs Wojciech Orlowski -KSW 13

Andre Fyeet vs Jan Blachowicz (KSW 8)

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