No one was more surprised to hear about the shake-up to UFC 282 than Jan Blachowicz.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion was on the way to Las Vegas for his fight against Magomed Ankalaev, which was expected to serve as the co-main of the upcoming pay-per-view event. Ahead of Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev was the rematch between Jiří Procházka and Glover Texeira, who were previously involved in a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender at UFC 275 this past June.
Everything was fine until reports began surfacing that Procházka had been forced to withdraw against Texeira and vacate the title after suffering a shoulder injury. An injury that UFC president Dana White described as ‘the worst shoulder injury the doctors have seen in UFC history’. And with Texeira rejecting the only fight the UFC would offer, a new title fight was created out of the co-main event.
Now promoted from co-main to main, Blachowicz and Ankalaev are vying for the vacant UFC light heavyweight championship. It’s a move that came as quite a surprise to the Polish fighter.
“That was the craziest several hours ever,” wrote Blachowicz on Twitter. “I left Warsaw to take part in the eliminator match, and a few hours later I’ve arrived as a title challenger. I’m ready. Keep fingers crossed. [Jiří Procházka] — huge respect for your conduct! Get well!”
That was the craziest several hours ever. I left Warsaw to take part in the eliminator match, and a few hours later I've arrived as a title challenger. I'm ready. Keep fingers crossed.@jiri_bjp - huge respect for your conduct! Get well! #UFC282— Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) November 24, 2022
Once in Las Vegas, Blachowicz provided a detailed account of what happened when he found out his fight against Ankalaev was for gold.
“So, we just arrived to Vegas yesterday [in] the evening,” said Blachowicz. “So, today is the first training. Get acclimated, used to the weather. And happy because—title shot! Main event. Amazing. That was crazy because I didn’t know nothing. I was in the plane ten hours and I was the last person to know that my fight will be for the title.
“So I wish Jiří a very fast recovery, but it is what it is,” continued Blachowicz. “We’ve got the title shot so—Perfect, I’m happy! Ready for it.”
This is the second championship opportunity for Blachowicz, who enjoyed a brief reign between 2020 and 2021. The 39-year-old had one successful defense against Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 before losing the title to the aforementioned Texeira at UFC 267. A third-round TKO over Aleksandar Rakić saw him return to the win column earlier this year.
Ankalaev went from newcomer to contender in the span of 10 fights. The former WFCA light heavyweight champion lost in his UFC debut but has yet to taste defeat again, rattling off nine consecutive wins, including decisions over former title challengers Volkan Oezdemir and Thiago Santos, as well as a second-round TKO of Anthony Smith.
UFC 282 goes down on Sat., Dec. 10, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.