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Temporary paralysis behind Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic fight delay

Originally scheduled for March 26th, Blachowicz vs. Rakic was pushed back to May 14th after Blachowicz lost feeling in the left side of his body.

Jan Blachowicz awaits the start of his bout against Glover Teixeira at UFC 267.
Jan Blachowicz awaits the start of his bout against Glover Teixeira at UFC 267.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

There’s no question that the physical toll of a career in fighting can be high. Fighters constantly push their bodies to extremes in the pursuit of peak performance inside the cage. Occasionally that kind of drive comes with a sharp reminder that the body can only take so much punishment.

From the sound of things, it appears former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz got one such signal earlier this year, when he had to delay a planned bout against Aleksandar Rakic due to injury. Now re-booked for May, Blachowicz recently sat down with MMA Fighting to talk about the neck injury that left him without feeling down the left side of his body.

“I wake up [on] one of the Mondays, and I feel a pain in my neck,” Blachowicz explained. “I think maybe I just slept bad, and that’s why I felt the pain. In the gym, we did some drills, and I took one shot on my guard, and I felt a really hard pain in my neck, and I cannot feel my left hand and left side of my body.

“It was completely off, paralyzed. Then I think, it’s not a normal pain. It’s something worse. I go to the doctor, we do an MRI and I have something [a disc] in my neck that puts pressure on the nerve. That’s why I had this feeling that I could not feel my left side.”

“It was scary,” he added. “You don’t know what happened. You can’t move your left hand. It was a weird feeling for me. A new thing, a scary thing.”

Ultimately the doctor recommended that Blachowicz withdraw from any strenuous training and go through several weeks of physical therapy to see if his neck could recover without surgery. Fortunately, it seems that was enough, and the 39-year-old is now back to 100% and training just as hard as ever.

“Everything is OK. I don’t have to worry about that [injury],” Blachowicz revealed. “I don’t have to think about this. I’m still going for rehabilitation just to keep it safe. I spar, I’m doing jiu-jitsu, wrestling, everything I can do right now.”

Blachowicz vs. Rakic is set to take place on May 14th at UFC Vegas 54 at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV. Alongside the light heavyweight main event, a women’s flyweight bout between former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas has also been scheduled for the card.