Blachowicz stuns Reyes by TKO, wins vacant title

MMA

The UFC’s light heavyweight division might not have Jon Jones — but perhaps it might still have a dominant champ.

Jan Blachowicz (27-8), an overlooked slugger from Poland, defeated Dominick Reyes (12-2) via TKO at 4 minutes, 36 seconds of the second round of their light heavyweight title fight on Saturday at UFC 253 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In doing so, Blachowicz became the first man other than Jones and former champ Daniel Cormier to hold the 205-pound title since 2011.

The championship fight, which served as the co-main event of UFC 253, came a little more than one month after Jones willingly vacated the title in anticipation of a move to heavyweight. Blachowicz, 37, has a long way to go to come anywhere close to matching Jones’ accolades in the division, but he certainly got his title reign off to a good start. Immediately after, Jones was the first thing on his mind.

“The only thing in my mind is, Jon Jones, where are you?” Blachowicz said. “This is how we do it in Poland. I’m waiting for you.”

Jones, who expressed interest in fighting Blachowicz back in February before vacating the title, wrote on Twitter, “Jan enjoy my friend, congratulations.”

Reyes, of Hesperia, California, was heavily favored to win, having just gone five close rounds with Jones at UFC 247 in February. Many observers scored that title fight for Reyes. The 30-year-old said he felt robbed by the judges, and went into Saturday’s contest calling himself an uncrowned champion.

But it did not take long for Blachowicz to show Saturday would be anything but a walk in the park for Reyes. He landed several hard left kicks to Reyes’ body early, which caused a massive welt on the right side of his rib cage. Reyes came out in the second round looking to be more aggressive, but struggled with the range and power of Blachowicz.

The finish came shortly after a flurry of punches by Blachowicz. After the finish, blood was coming from Reyes’ nose, which appeared to be broken. It was Blachowicz’s eighth win in the UFC’s light heavyweight division since the start of 2017, which is the most of any 205-pounder over that span.

Assuming Jones does not accept Blachowicz’s invitation to return to the division, his first title defense could come against the winner of a Nov. 7 main event between Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira. Santos holds a third-round TKO finish over Blachowicz from 2019. It is Blachowicz’s only loss in his past nine fights.

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