Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic collide in a light heavyweight bout that will likely produce the No. 1 contender for the title. The former champion, Blachowicz, finds himself in familiar territory as he is once again an underdog per the Blachowicz vs Rakic odds. The younger Rakic has won six of his seven UFC fights and is on the cusp. But will his technical prowess overcome the veteran savvy and power of Blachowicz?
Blachowicz Relishes Underdog Role
Jan Blachowicz became the underdog champion when he captured the vacant title in 2020. The UFC’s unlikeliest champion profited, along with his backers, as an underdog by going 8-2 in the promotion when lined at even money or longer. Bettors would have increased their bets ten-fold, literally, by wagering on him in these fights.
As a favorite, though, Blachowicz has had a less-than-ideal record: 4-3 and a few units down if you wagered on him every time. The mild-mannered Polish fighter seems to shy away from the spotlight and does his best work when the odds are against him. His performance on UFC 267 against Glover Teixeira was one of the bigger “choke jobs” in recent memory, losing as a -245 favorite.
“My performance today was horrible,” Blachowicz told MMA Fighting at the UFC 267 post-fight press conference. “I don’t know. I wasn’t a champion today, [Glover Teixeira] was. He is. I don’t know, I need time to think about it, but for sure something was bad.”
It wasn’t the only time Blachowicz has let himself and his fans down during the main event. He was knocked out by Thiago Santos in 2019 and had a subpar showing against Jacare Souza, though he did win via a split decision. Blachowicz did end Israel Adesanya’s unbeaten reign on UFC 259 and he knocked out Corey Anderson.
Against a young, hungry up-and-comer like Rakic, Blachowicz should be motivated. If the Blachowicz from the Teixeira bout shows up, this UFC Fight Night betting preview may be the last we hear of Blachowicz.
- Fighter records: Jan Blachowicz (28-9-0) vs Aleksandar Rakic (14-2-0)
- Date: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Television/live stream: ESPN2
- Location: UFC Apex, Las Vegas
Rakic: Substance Over Style
Aleksandar Rakic has quietly but steadily climbed the UFC rankings at light heavyweight and is this close to a title shot. The 30-year-old already has wins over two former title challengers in Santos and Anthony Smith, and can add the scalp of the former champion on his resume.
Despite his head-kick knockouts and spinning backfists, Rakic is more of a technical fighter than an explosive showman. His fights with Santos and Smith were not the most interesting, but he won them pretty comfortably. But, despite his lack of finishes — his last one came over Manuwa in 2018 — Rakic has the ability to finish a fight anywhere.
“I would like to win the fight by knockout in the first round,” Rakic said on UFC Journey: Jan Blachowicz vs Aleksandar Rakic. “If I see any chance where I could finish the fight, I will do it. I know I have the abilities to finish him on the feet or on the ground — or to put a pure dominant overall [performance] for five rounds.”
Fans that are hungry to see a bloodbath may be disappointed here. But as far as UFC Fight Night betting tips are concerned, placing money on the calm and calculated kickboxer in Rakic is a solid proposition. This is even magnified when the UFC Apex will feature no live audiences to influence Rakic’s demeanor.
With only his coaches yelling at him, Rakic will steadily execute his game plan over Blachowicz. That is, to break him down piece by piece until his notorious “Polish Power” is no longer a threat. As good as Rakic has been on his feet, he is a capable wrestler. While Blachowicz has improved in this category, it remains one of his weaknesses.
Rakic knows the title picture at 205 pounds is wide open. We saw two big underdogs in Blachowicz and Teixeira hold the belt, so why not the prospect-turned-contender in Rakic? Come Saturday, the Serbian will put on one of his best performances and will not be denied what he rightfully earned.